Great Scott the pick of Barretts
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 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, a match his brothers admittedly didn’t play a part in, and his 19th test since debuting against Ireland in 2016.
Nobody could be blamed for ruing the loss of Brodie Retallick (chest injury) for six weeks in the lead-up to the series but Barrett certainly 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.’’
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.
‘‘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.
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.
‘‘I’m not too sure. I guess I’m enjoying my rugby,’’ Barrett said when asked about the reasoning behind his surge in form.
After three physical tests, Barrett will get a week off thanks to the Crusaders’ bye week, ensuring he’ll have a chance to freshen up before they host the Highlanders on July 6.
The same goes for Crusaders team-mate and centre Jack Goodhue, who made his All Blacks debut. While he missed a tackle on French try scorer 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. Michael Maguire’s young Kiwis side were taught harsh lessons about international football by England yesterday.
But now that he has seen what he has got to work with, the Australian coach is even more confident of getting the national team back on track.
The history books will show England were comfortable winners in rugby league’s first Denver experience as they won 36-18 in front about 20,000 people at Mile High Stadium.
The second half wasn’t pretty as a Kiwis side that included seven debutants wilted in the face of an English onslaught in the 30 degrees celsius heat.
But with so many stars watching back in New Zealand, Maguire took