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Scott Barrett was the safe, obvious choice as All Blacks captain

Head Coach Scott Robertson and captain Scott Barrett look on during the New Zealand All Blacks 2024 season launch at NZCIS on June 26, 2024 in Upper Hutt, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

It came as no surprise to see Scott Robertson install Scott Barrett as All Blacks captain.

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Which isn’t to say I don’t have mixed feelings about it.

Barrett is a good bloke. He’s thoughtful, sincere and cut from the traditional captaincy cloth.

He’ll represent the team well in the ceremonial aspects that come with being skipper.

You can rely on Barrett to be affable with sponsors and media, to treat the blazer brigade at New Zealand Rugby with respect and to not say or do anything that will tarnish the brand.

He’s a safe choice, in other words.

On the park, he’ll play. We’re so short of locks that there ought not be any questions about his place in the side, as there always was with Sam Cane.

Barrett will also be able to translate Robertson, which shouldn’t be overlooked.

There isn’t always much that Robertson says that makes sense. You assume his messaging is better-understood within a team but, outwardly, the new coach talks in riddles.

Barrett’s been there, done that with Robertson and any confused players can come to him with the confidence that he knows what the coach means.

I look at the squad of 32 named to play England and I suspect the All Blacks are in for a few hard years.

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Barrett is probably better-equipped to be explaining losses than Savea might be. Savea’s heart is arguably too near his sleeve.

You don’t have to be the captain to lead. Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Dane Coles and Aaron Smith were all leaders in the previous All Blacks group.

Just as Savea, Codie Taylor, Jordie and Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Anton Lienert-Brown and Patrick Tuipulotu will be now.

I’m sure other players see themselves as having something to offer in that regard, but I don’t.

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As I mentioned, if you look at things honestly, Barrett was the logical captaincy choice.

From NZR, to the coaching staff and sponsors, Barrett fits the profile: rural background, rugby family, Crusaders pedigree, no discernible ego.

The kind of fine young man you’d be happy for your daughter to marry.

None of that’s without merit, but it’s not 1960 anymore.

Savea would be my captain every day of the week, but I doubt he would be Robertson’s.

From the moment he was named as coach, Barrett was going to be the skipper.

I like the tradition of rugby in New Zealand. I thought we had values and a culture that had stood us in good stead for decades.

I’m not one for changing things because someone in marketing or the diversity and inclusion departments says we have to move with the times.

But this is a team that has to reinvent itself.

There’s been too much continuity and succession, too much of the same ideas, too much reliance on the coaching tree of Wayne Smith.

Maybe Robertson and Barrett will work wonders. Maybe, despite the sameness of this squad to the preceding ones, they’ll get more out of these players than Ian Foster did.

But, at first blush, we seem to have the same types of athletes, suited to the same type of footy that hasn’t been consistently effective for years now.

We have no locks. We’ve got loose forwards that can play multiple positions, but don’t demand selection in any.

There’s no reliable first-five eighth or fullback in this 32 and minimal midfield options.

The wings are okay and Will Jordan will surely be fullback once he’s fit, leaving Damian McKenzie or Beauden Barrett to hopefully become the first-five Richie Mo’unga wasn’t able to under Foster.

I can’t say having Savea as skipper would’ve changed any of that or made the team demonstrably better.

But I doubt the naming of Barrett as captain inspired confidence in anyone. They’d have understood the rationale, but the excitement would’ve been nonexistent.

I wish Barrett well. Just as I wish the same for Robertson, having pushed his barrow for years now.

I just didn’t look at the squad and captaincy announcement and feel as if this All Blacks team’s future is any brighter than it was before.

I’ll look forward to being proved wrong.

Watch the exclusive reveal-all episode of Walk the Talk with Ardie Savea as he chats to Jim Hamilton about the RWC 2023 experience, life in Japan, playing for the All Blacks and what the future holds. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

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Comments

19 Comments
B
B.J. Spratt 7 days ago

Hamish is a Socialist. Like all socialists, they have nothing and want to share it with everyone.

S
SadersMan 16 days ago

The “sameness” was caused by appointing Hansen’s mini-me, Foster, above his competency level. Foster’s 50% win rate as Head Coach of the Chiefs for 8 years, should’ve been instructive. He & his personally selected & targeted coaches then proceeded to coach the ABs into mediocrity for the best part of 3 seasons before the NZRFU took drastic action. Foster left the ABs role with a 69.57% win rate; the worse of those who had coached the ABs for a minimum of 30 tests, & 40 tests. Out of the 25 ABs Head Coaches, he ranks 20=.

It’s going to take a huge effort for Razor & Scooter to squeeze the Foster stink out of the ABs environment, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, & professionally. With Ardie, Reiko, & others using descriptors such as “energising” & “refreshing”, it seems they’re off to a good start. For now, just win. ABs by 1pt will do me.

N
Nickers 20 days ago

Although it took a long time, by the end of Foster’s tenure the ABs were extremely good. To mention the “sameness of the squad” and “hopefully he can get more out of the players”…. ignores the fact that the players were fantastic last year. There were four teams who were all very competitive and could beat each other on their day, and NZ was one of them.

Totally agree on the point about fullback though. Perofeta to 15 for the Blues seemed like a forced move because Plummer had clearly outplayed him at 10. You would have to assume that Will Jordan is Razor’s first choice 15, but in the interim Perofeta starting there over Love or Stevenson seems extremely left field. If Sullivan was fit Perofeta would arguably have found himself on the bench for the latter half of the Blues season.

A lot of the other selections you can make a case for, even if you don’t agree with them. But essentially naming Perofeta as the only full back in the squad is a big head scratcher.

T
Toaster 20 days ago

What a load of tripe!

Our wings are not just “ok”
They are world class

I get the sentiment about no locks
It’s not Brodie and Whitelock but with Tuipolotu there it’s acceptable at least
Then there’s Darry coming through
Holland next year

No reliable first five? Well in his last outing against the Pumas McKenzie was outstanding and he’s played really well all year

Robertson doesn’t make sense? I have no problems understanding him

All blacks are in for a few tough years?
good grief there is plenty on talent and this squad is just to play England

S
Shaylen 20 days ago

A lot of negativity in this article and in the press about the squad talking about how weak the AB’s are and that this isnt the revolutionary squad they expected. As an outsider looking in I cant quite believe how negative it is. AB’s have alot of world class player, saying Richie Mo’unga wasnt all that under Foster is nonsense. He is such a class player and destroyed Ireland in the quarter final last year. A great player. Talking about how the AB’s have no locks, well Tupou Vaa’i has 25 caps, Tuipulotu has 43 caps and Barrett has 69 caps. I would say that means they have some experienced locks who are actually good athletes. Talking about the wings being okay? well thats absurd because they are class. Clarke, Narawa, Reece and Tele’a are top drawer while Jordan is on the mend. Mckenzie and Beauden Barrett are a headache any coach would want at 10 with both being world class options. Really now, should anyone be so negative about this squad. Only mistake I can see is Savea is not captain and thats just because the coach and Barrett have a good relationship.

M
MattJH 20 days ago

The All Blacks, with an entirely new management team, have 10 days to prepare to play an English side who have played 6N a few months ago and had a warm up game against Japan last week.
Having a brand new captain and new coach who have had that relationship for four years is one of the slender advantages of the preparation that the ABs have.
Makes sense to make Barret captain.
As for bagging the playing ability and quality of the side selected, it says a lot that the writer doesn’t offer any stats, reasoning, or alternatives other than Ardie should be captain because… why? He’s more media friendly?
And the players themselves are very excited about their team and captain.
Another ridiculous, grizzly hack piece from a top drawer wind up merchant. (Who I always read without fail.)

J
Jon 20 days ago

Just as long as Razor does all the talking in the presser and other players get all the onfield interviews, we’ll all be OK (sry Scott).

He’ll be great at his core role, actioning as the leader/Chief for the players off the field, he’ll only bring concerns to Razor when they really need to be and on the field he’s actually got a bit of captaincy flair. I’d hope he’s honed that a bit more by the time RWC comes around, but for now, happy for him and Ardie to think for themselves on the paddock (can’t see Jordie being much help for the backs, all most too much an alrounder).

D
Dave 20 days ago

I think the communications combined with the history of Barrett and Robertson are even more vital at this time.

G
Graham 20 days ago

I am really happy Scott Barrett is the captain. He is as Hamish said a humble , rural origin man , who is sincere and a certain selection. Ardie Savea is there too help.Scott is a good guy, he knows Razor so well, they will work well together as they did at the Crusaders.

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