Scott Barrett caps French series with ‘probably’ his best performance for All Blacks
ROBERT VAN ROYEN
Last updated 05:00, June 25 2018
Lock Scott Barrett shows relentlessness on attack and defence in win over France, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says.
If only the bookies took bets on who would be the pick of the Barrett brothers against the French, and someone had gone out on a limb and picked Scott to outshine flashy backs Beauden and Jordie.
Because there’s surely no doubt about it, the big lock was the pick of the bunch, if not the entire team, in the 3-0 series win, capped off by what coach Steve Hansen labelled “probably” his best game for the All Blacks.
The 24-year-old was immense in the 49-14 romp at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday night, a match his brothers admittedly didn’t play a part in, and his 19th test since debuting against Ireland in 2016.
Scott, left, Jordie and Beauden Barrett made history as the first trio of All Blacks brothers to start a test, against France in Auckland.
Nobody could be blamed for ruing the loss of Brodie Retallick (chest injury) for six weeks in the leadup to the series, but Barrett sure as hell ensured his absence didn’t sting.
His physicality has gone up a few notches this season, which was perfectly highlighted by a series of bone-rattling hits in the third and final test.
“Probably his best game in the jersey, I think,” Hansen said in reference to Barrett. “He has been working hard on not trying to over-think things and just get out there and do it. Tonight he did that really, really well. He got rewards for it.”
Barrett made a staggering 19 tackles, seven more than the next best All Blacks – fellow lock Sam Whitelock and debutant flanker Shannon Frizell.
There was also a couple of rips, his lineout work was tidy, he carried the ball 10 times for 17 metres in the tight stuff and, while he threw a poor pass in the opening stages, his link work is quality for a second rower.
Scott Barrett makes one of his 19 tackles against France in Dunedin on Saturday night.
“It’s a pretty good feeling at the moment, knowing that I played pretty well and put a huge effort in. I’m pretty happy.” Barrett said.
“It [the early pass] was a wee bit of a blunder, but I didn’t let that affect the rest of my game.”
Those who have watched the Crusaders this year won’t be surprised by what they saw from the 1.97m lock in the All Blacks’ final test before the Rugby Championship kicks off in August.
After all, he’s been instrumental in the defending champions’ charge to the top of the Super Rugby ladder, more than stepping up in the absence of Sam Whitelock and Luke Romano, who both missed a bunch of games through injury this season.
“I’m not too sure. I guess I’m enjoying my rugby,” Barrett said when asked about the reasoning behind his surge in form.
“I’m just loving every minute of it, really. Steve [Hansen] sort of helped me, just saying to back my instincts.”
After three physical tests, Barrett will get a week off thanks to the Crusaders’ fortuitous bye week, ensuring he’ll have a chance to freshen up before the red and blacks host the Highlanders on July 6.
The same goes for Crusaders teammate and centre Jack Goodhue, who made his All Blacks debut in the midfield on Saturday night.
While he missed a tackle on French tryscorer Wesley Fofana, Goodhue didn’t look out of place alongside Sonny Bill Williams at the top level.
“I think it’s rugby and there’s no such thing as the perfect game. There were a couple of things that if I had my chance again, I would have done differently,” Goodhue said.
“But you’ve got to make mistakes to learn . . . I’m looking forward to sitting down with [assistant coach] Ian [Foster] and going over those.”
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