Kerr-Barlow enthusiastic as ABs camp begins
It was like the first day of school, reckoned Waikato tyro Tawera Kerr-Barlow as he got his first taste of life under the All Black spotlight in Auckland yesterday.
"Kind of, except more cameras," said the 21-year-old halfback after being thrust in front of the media after arriving at a North Shore hotel to begin a three-day training camp with the extended national squad.
Kerr-Barlow is one of a handful of players added to the national team to gain experience in the All Black environment.
He is unlikely to make the squad to face the Irish next month but new All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen said it was important to expose the next wave of talent to how things were done at the highest level.
"There's a couple of people here who are clearly going to be All Blacks in the future if they continue to develop the way we believe they will," Hansen said.
"It's just a nice opportunity to bring them into the camp. We don't have tours where we can grow these guys, so we just felt the wider training group option was one we should take advantage of."
Kerr-Barlow said he was "a little bit nervous but also excited" to be among such hallowed company.
"It's been a dream for me to try and make the All Blacks. I'm one step closer, so I'm just going to enjoy it."
Kerr-Barlow, who is one of four halfbacks assembled in the squad, paid tribute to a Chiefs team who had provided him with the platform to impress the national selectors.
"I've got to have a shout-out to all the boys because without them none of us other Chiefs fellas would be here," the clearly enthused youngster said.
"Especially the forwards, as they've laid a pretty good platform on at times for us halves to play our game.
"We couldn't be here without them."
The youngster said he wasn't sure what lay ahead but expected it would be mostly "patterns and protocols".
The more experienced Zac Guildford, a late addition to the squad, remembered the most daunting thing when he first joined the All Blacks. "Talking to the big dogs really – it's a pretty nervous time.
"A few of the younger boys looked a bit nervous on the bus.
"That was me only a couple of years ago but I'm sure they'll feel comfortable within a couple of days."