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Opinion

Did Scott Barrett just win Ian Foster one more year?

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Roar Guru
29th November, 2020
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3823 Reads

As promised to wellwishers, detractors and assorted Roar characters, here is my look at the eldest Barrett brother’s involvement in the 38-0 spanking of the tired, undercooked Pumas.

I looked at one whole match performance each of Guido Petti (Argentina), Patrick Tuipulotu (New Zealand) and Rob Simmons (Australia) in this year’s Tri Nations tournament. As a reminder, Battling Basque Petti was best (and went the distance), with much-maligned centurion Simmons just behind him (but over 67 minutes, running on fumes at the end). Tame Tuipulotu lagged significantly and was dropped for the second All Blacks-Pumas Test in favour of Scott Barrett.

Barrett looks like he could be in any decade of the All Blacks, even in the 19th century. Not a freak. A bit blockish. Strong but not ripped. Always zealous but often clumsy.

Before the match I observed Barrett shake every teammate’s hand the old school way – No hugs, no snaps, no jive.

Would he match up against the super-smooth Petti?

Scott Barrett of New Zealand

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Tighthead lock Involvements/min Minutes on field Positive-neutral-negative Percentage positive Percentage negative
Simmons 0.75 67 9-41-0 18 0
Petti 0.66 81 23-30-1 42.5 2
Tuipulotu 0.61 70 11-24-8 25 19

For the purposes of this analysis, I’ve divided the game into eight ten-minute chukkas.

Petti had 0.66 discrete involvements (outside the scrum) per minute but never lost pace over 81 minutes except for a lull in the fourth chukka after being hurt in a tackle by Jack Goodhue. He finished with nine involvements in the eighth chukka, the fourth busiest of any chukka by all men.

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More importantly, while only two per cent of Petti’s involvements were negative (my assessment), 43 per cent were positive (meaning more than just what is expected of a Test lock; actually putting his team on the front foot and creating the chance for red zone entry or a score or morale boost).

Simmons was busier (0.75 actions per minute), but his positive involvements were only 18 per cent of the whole. I must point out he had zero negatives, but overall we can observe the historic critique of the big old Queenslander, even in one of his best games in years, is grounded in some sort of reality, even if unfair if he is called lazy or soft – he does not dominate a game. He works, he grinds, he keeps possession, he does not take a lot of risks and he gets his hands dirty.

Tuipulotu was a liability for his team. He dipped in production. He was slow to even his neutral ruck attendances. He was much more likely to concede possession. He did more positive things than Simmons but committed eight more mistakes: a coach-killer in a tight Test match.

How did Barrett do?

Watching it live I felt Barrett brought more energy, urgency, and biff than Tuipulotu did in the loss.

On review I found the following.

First chukka (seven involvements)
No forward flowed because a kicking duel and brother Jordie’s penalty attempt chewed up four early minutes. This was followed by a long review of brother Beauden’s non-try.

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However, Barrett got stuck in.

Positive:
Barrett tackled the first deep restart (with brother Beauden) and made two hard cleanouts of Argie jacklers.

Neutral:
He did a passable clean at 6:30, challenged well – illegally but not whistled – at a 7:54 lineout, carried and presented tidily and pressured a Pumas carrier on his try line.

Second chukka (seven involvements)
Barrett started with a bang, but the last five minutes of this chukka were consumed with interminable Richie Mo’unga kick routines (he takes 80 to 90 seconds) and scrum resets.

Positive
Barrett got a piece of a Nicolas Sanchez exit, keeping the Pumas pinned, made a hard carry over the gainline at 10:37, another strong carry at pace on a good 45-degree angle deep in the red zone, leading to Dane Coles’s try and, finally, a beautiful six-metre run almost to the line after chasing a 50-metre-plus kick.

Neutral
He attended three rucks, forming a pillar.

Third chukka (seven involvements)
In this period Barrett contested lineouts and did his best impression of Brodie Retallick passing on a pivot platform.

Positive
He created a slow mess of a Pumas lineout with a dynamic contest and passed in stride to Anton Lienert-Brown in space on the run.

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Neutral
He challenged another two lineouts (was undercut at one), passed to Ardie Savea in tight-loose, attended a ruck and defended a maul.

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Fourth chukka (nine involvements)
Aided by the breather of kick tennis, a long scrum dance and another 90-second Mo’unga swing thought mindfulness kick aim, Barrett had plenty in the tank.

Positive
He smashed over two tacklers and made a devilish low catch on the run on the 12th phase in the red zone.

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Neutral
He attended three rucks, latched Caleb Clarke, made a settling carry, was a maul engine and pressured a Sánchez exit.

Scott Barrett met the Rob Simmons work rate in the first half: 0.75 discrete non-scrum involvements per minute. His 30 actions included 37 per cent positives. He outplayed the excellent (but surely tired) Guido Petti. Did he keep it up? (A question posed after so many honeymoons).

Fifth chukka (six involvements)
Play drifted away from Barrett in this short side period even though he routinely offered himself to Aaron Smith on the openside. Still, he was busy.

Positive
He made a hard yard on the All Blacks try line.

Neutral
He attended two rucks, hit a cleanout, carried and presented and tackled Marcos Kremer.

Negative
He drifted back into a leaping Clarke on the first play of the half, undercutting him. If he were a Pumas chaser, he’d have been red-carded. A lack of awareness.

Sixth chukka (five involvements)
Barrett had trouble in this one. His hands let him down just after the best lineout take of the match.

Positive
He extended in the lift at the back of a 51:30 lineout, feeding Ardie Savea on the way to a try that doomed Argentina. Soft hands, great take and smooth feed.

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Neutral
A one-up tackle and a so-so lineout challenge.

Negative
He spilled a restart, saved by Clarke’s scavenge, and idly knocked back a bouncing ball in general play to Emiliano Boffelli (who isolated and was turned over).

Seventh chukka (seven involvements)
Barrett remained when Tuipulotu arrived (Sam Whitelock went off). He tired but kept grinding, like a young Simmons.

Neutral
Two tackles of backs, a two-handed lineout take to set a drive, a hard carry, a clean and a ruck hit.

Negative
A restart mixup.

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Final chukka (six involvements)
As he started to blow, Barrett clapped and shouted encouragement. The thing about Scott Barrett is, unlike all the other big locks, his output was remarkably consistent (7-7-7-9-6-5-7 by chukka to this point). It was only at the very end that he slowed. The game went past 86 minutes. His involvement rate (0.66 per minute) was higher than any of his counterparts in this study except the stodgy soldier Simmons.

Positive
A wildly skillful pickup on the right wing at 84:56, leading to his lockmate’s try.

Neutral
Catch and pass in midfield at 74:08. Two decent rucks. A maul defend. A maul sack that should’ve been whistled.

Scott Barrett had 54 involvements, 26 per cent positive. That’s salty. He kept his error rate (seven per cent) down, but he was not as clinical as Petti and Simmons.

His 14-36-4 ratio is testament to his industry and zeal; only as he tired did he start to make mistakes.

At this point, he’s a reliable carrier and contester – a true blue-collar All Black.