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Scott Barrett names the players he'd least like to meet at a ruck

By Ned Lester
Ethan Blackadder of the All Blacks (C) looks on during the International Test Match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Fiji at Forsyth Barr Stadium on July 10, 2021 in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

New All Blacks captain Scott Barrett has played against and alongside some all-time greats of the game, but he says two players in particular provide a physical edge around the breakdown.


Barrett succeeded Sam Cane as All Blacks captain in 2024 after breaking up the iconic pairing of Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick in the second row ahead of last year’s Rugby World Cup.

The seven-time Super Rugby champion remembers Retallick’s impact on the game well, having felt the full force of the All Black centurion’s weight many a time on the pitch.

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The 30-year-old was asked who he’d least like to see at a ruck during a game and Retallick’s name was the first to come to mind.

“I guess locally, or historically, it would be Brodie Retallick,” Barrett laughed on the Aotearoa Rugby Pod.

“He’d just zero in on you. If you’re over the ball, that’s how he’s made his mark on the game; for some of his cleanouts. Especially earlier on in his career when you could tuck a shoulder a bit more. He’s very physical around the breakdown.

“Probably in the current team, Ethan Blackadder. At the training park, he’s pretty heavy.

“Probably with those two, if you’re committing to getting over the ball, you’re making sure you’re locking it down otherwise you’re getting spat out the back.”



The Crusaders captain has a longstanding relationship with new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson and was the favourite to land the captaincy for this next era.

Barrett contributed heavily to the decision to appoint his brother, Jordie, and World Rugby Player of the Year Ardie Savea as vice-captains for the team.

The trio are arguably the only guaranteed starters for the All Blacks, who begin their season this weekend against England in Dunedin.

With Barrett and Scott “Razor” Robertson at the helm, Kiwi hopes are high for what the team can achieve. Barrett outlined how the leadership group will operate.


“With Razor, I think he drives a lot of the philosophy, the culture stuff within the group and how you operate. Within that, you have key relationships with your coaches who drive different areas of the game,” he said.

“I guess your role as captain is to trust the guys in their key positions, be it the players, your game drivers, your nines, 10s, your 15s, trust them to be able to influence on the ground, in the training park with their strategy alongside the coaches.

“I guess that’s the beauty of the All Blacks, you’re surrounded by a group of talented guys, not just the players but coaches. Guys striving to be experts.”

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B.J. Spratt 15 days ago

I would like to thank England for providing the All Blacks with a couple of warm up games before we play “The World Champions” South Africa.

Mind you South Africa’s warm up games will be a bit harder.

David 16 days ago

This Ethan Blackadder must be some player? The English will have no IP on him as he hasn't been sighted for ages. A cunning plan by Baldrick Ryan.

Graham 16 days ago

Great interview with Scott Barrett. What he says about Ethan Blackadder is so right. That is why he should be in the team named tomorrow.

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finn 5 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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