Guido Petti Pagadizábal is the shortest starting lock in a top-ten Test team, yet he flies the highest.
The best Super Rugby lineout thief over the last three seasons and usually atop lineout stats with Eben Etzebeth in the Rugby Championship, Petti is a hooker’s best friend (if a Puma/Jaguar) or nightmare (because he is catlike).
He jumps quickly, is easy to lift and has hang time even if he jumps without a lift at the back of the lineout. A lot of Basques have excelled in French rugby, and it seems from his apellido materno that Petti’s mum is from Basque heritage. A tough tribe.
After looking at tighthead lock Patrick Tuipulotu’s sub-standard outing (0.61 involvements per minute, with far too many negatives) in the loss to Petti’s Pumas, and comparing that display to Rob Simmons’ commanding game in the 15-15 draw (0.75 involvements per minute, and not one negative), I decided to complete the Tri-Nations look by running the ruler over a Petti test.
Petti played the whole match in the historic win over the All Blacks. His rate of involvement (discrete actions outside the scrum) was between the sluggish rate of Paddy and Rob’s surprisingly busy tempo: 0.66 per minute. However, his actions were almost as impeccable as Rob’s (only one negative event), did not taper in the second half and were more positive in ratio than the other two 4-locks.
He was the primary big carrier (14 runs) and made 11 tackles.
First chukka (seven involvements)
Positive: a strong carry which led to a good drop goal attempt for Nico Sánchez (missed), a dominant tackle, a restart catch looking into the sun in heavy traffic and a good lineout contest causing a Sam Whitelock bobble.
Neutral: he attended a ruck, won an easy lineout and helped stop a maul drive.
Second chukka (ten involvements)
Positive: Petti caused another lineout fumble, carried hard (leading to a Sánchez penalty), won the quickest lineout of the match and busted a Whitelock tackle leading up to the Sánchez try.
Neutral: he made three carries in 32 seconds, a tackle, guided a maul, completed a clean and attended a ruck.
Third chukka (seven involvements)
Positive: Petti was first to a loose ball after a Tuipulotu fumble.
Neutral: he attended four rucks, made a settling carry and tackled Jack Goodhue (which seemed to take a toll on Petti).
Fourth chukka (one involvement)
Negative: a lost ball at a lineout.
For the half, Petti had 25 total involvements (nine positive, 15 neutral, one negative). The tackle at 26:42 bothered him. He needed oranges.
Fifth chukka (eight involvements)
Petti came back strong.
Positive: Petti ripped the ball from Petti one minute into the second half, won a tough take in a lineout, led a huge maul, stole a lineout to stop an All Black attack and made a big five metre carry through two tacklers at a critical point.
Neutral: he attended a ruck, made a tackle and a decent carry.
Sixth chukka (six involvements)
Positive: Petti took two tough lineouts (one without a lifter, at 56:05) and a restart in traffic.
Neutral: he tackled BBBBB and got stuck in on two maul defences.
Seventh chukka (six involvements)
He wasn’t slowing down.
Positive: another lineout steal and two dominant tackles.
Neutral: he carried to settle Tomas Cubelli and attended a couple of rucks.
Eighth chukka (nine involvements)
Positive: Petti tackled Ardie Savea first time dominated Codie Taylor in a tackle and made a hard cleanout at 79:16.
Neutral: he defended a maul, led a maul, made a team tackle, a normal tackle and carried twice.
At the end, Petti was still working and raised his arms in joy.
He had 54 discrete involvements, 23 of them positive. Phenomenal.
Whilst he was not as busy as Simmons, he was a bit more influential at the lineout and in the carry.
Petti isn’t tall enough to be a Test lock, and yet he absolutely is big enough: in heart, work rate and intelligence.
Basque in the applause, Guido Petti.