Scott Barrett dubbed a ‘next level lock’ after ‘full-throttle’ Bledisloe shift

Scott Barrett of the All Blacks runs the ball during the Bledisloe Cup match between Australia Wallabies and New Zealand All Blacks at The Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 29, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. Credit: Alamy

Scott Barrett of the All Blacks runs the ball during the Bledisloe Cup match between Australia Wallabies and New Zealand All Blacks at The Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 29, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. Credit: Alamy

Scott Barrett has received widespread praise for his performance against the Wallabies in the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup clash.

No official Player of the Match award was issued after the game, but Barrett was certainly the front-runner if there were.

In an all-action display, Barrett made 42 metres from 16 carries, beating four defenders, making one clean break and completing six passes.

Defensively, he won three turnovers, made 11 tackles and two won lineouts for the All Blacks while being a massive presence on attacking rucks and mauls.

Next level lock

His performance has not gone unnoticed, with pundits, ex-players, and coaches raving about his shift in the Bledisloe Cup victory.

Springboks legend Bakkies Botha was one of the ex-players to hail Barrett’s performance with a simple tweet in reply to him shushing Nic White.

“Scott Barrett is next level lock,” Botha wrote.

This came in the same week that Botha said that modern rugby is “frustrating” and that players can no longer express their “true nature”.

Meanwhile, Paul Lewis questioned whether any All Blacks lock has had the all-round influence on a Test match like that Barrett did in his New Zealand Herald column.

“It’s doubtful any All Blacks lock has had the all-round influence on a test Barrett did. There was that tackle that smeared Wallabies halfback Tate McDermott all over the goal line, setting up a gift try for Shannon Frizell,” he wrote.

“There was an astonishing number of carries throughout the match, time and again getting up to make his way quickly back into position to receive the ball. He was involved multiple times for Will Jordan’s try in the first half, making at least three carries in quick succession.

“He was a key part of an almost flawless All Blacks lineout, and his work at the breakdown was applied with cold efficiency.

“But it was his athleticism and ability to go full-throttle for 80 work-filled minutes that most caught the eye. He set up the All Blacks’ first try and the last too.”

Lead figure

Lewis’ view on Barrett’s performance was shared by many in New Zealand, with Sky Sports NZ commentator Tony Johnson also singing his praises.

“All season, I think he has been consistently outstanding for the Crusaders,” Johnson told The Breakdown.

“He has actually taken on the mantel. He’s knocked a couple of edges off his game, he still has the aggression, he still has the power, he’s moving bodies, he’s carrying effectively.

“The skillset is all there, but he’s not giving away penalties…He has become perhaps the lead figure in this All Blacks pack.”

Johnson’s colleague Grant Nisbett believes that Barrett has to be a starting lock for the All Blacks after starring in a position where it is usually difficult to stand out.

“It’s pretty hard for a tight forward to be an outstanding player,” Nisbett told SENZ. “They normally battle away and do some good things here and there.”

“But he was just everywhere on Saturday; he was winning lineouts and making huge tackles – none more so than the one that resulted in that first try.

“And his carrying. There were times when the All Blacks were spinning a sequence together, where Barrett was involved four or five times, and he was just outstanding.”

Nisbett was one of many who commented on a potential switch to blindside flanker for Barrett, but the veteran commentator believed that he should be starting in the second row.

“If it comes to the crunch, and I’m not suggesting that it will happen this week, he is an absolute must as a starter, and I think he’s a must as a starter and in either the number four or the five shirt too,” he said.

“We’ve debated over the last few years whether he should play him at six. Now, Frizzell has probably sealed that position, allowing Barrett to play where he is at his most natural, which is at lock.

“And then it becomes a question of who do you leave out, I suppose. Three into two is always going to be a difficult equation for Ian Foster, but a damn good problem to have.”

A lock who can cover flank

Barrett’s form looks to be splitting the experienced combination of Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock, and All Blacks forwards coach Jason Ryan says that he isn’t rushing to move Barrett to the side of the scrum.

“Well, I think he’s probably one of the best locks in the world at the moment,” Ryan told SENZ.

“We’ve got good cover and experience that can come on and finish games, whoever that might be, and they truly all competing.

“We see him [Barrett] as a lock who can cover six. Yeah, he can [play six], but Shannon Frizzell, I mean, you know, is he going alright or is he going good?

“We also have a couple of young bulls [Josh Lord and Tupou Vaai] that are just chipping away in the background quite nicely as well. So yeah, we’re pretty happy with that combination.”

He added: “That’s not to say that we wouldn’t slip in there [at six], but first and foremost, we see him as a lock who can cover 6.”

The All Blacks tackle the Wallabies in the second Bledisloe Cup Test match on Saturday at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.

The clash is New Zealand’s penultimate game before the Rugby World Cup, with one final hit out against the Springboks at Twickenham on August 25.

READ MORE: All Blacks look to ‘reset to zero’ after Rugby Championship triumph

The article Scott Barrett dubbed a ‘next level lock’ after ‘full-throttle’ Bledisloe shift appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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