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The Barrett brother who has impressed Will Genia the most in 2023

By Ned Lester
Jordie, Scott and Beauden Barrett sing the New Zealand national anthem. Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

In a promising start to the All Blacks‘ international season, one man has stood out for Wallaby great Will Genia.

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An architect behind both wins to start the season and causing a major selection headache for Ian Foster, Scott Barrett has provided the All Blacks with immense physicality and front foot ball while executing at set piece.

The form of the Crusaders captain has forced a discussion which previously would have been considered unthinkable – moving Sam Whitelock to the bench.

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That is exactly where the 143-cap veteran will enter Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup match from in Melbourne, being named as a reserve in his return from injury.

Another strong shift from Barrett could see Whitelock’s fourth World Cup journey begin in the No 19 jersey as opposed to his familar No 5. That is the direction things are heading in Genia’s eyes, with the middle Barrett brother lighting up The Rugby Championship so far.

“The player that I’ve been really, really impressed with is Scott Barrett,” Genia told The Aotearoa Rugby Pod. “I think he’s been incredible. His ability in the ball carry, he probably doesn’t get spoken about enough.

“His ability in the ball carry, he’s always looking to dominate that physical space and we probably need a little bit more of that in our second row as well, with big Will (Skelton) and Richie Arnold.

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“I rate him really, really highly. For whatever reason he seems to be someone who’s always moving on to the ball with pace, he’s got a huge engine. And because he’s solid in the carry he has the ability to create offloads as well.

“They’ve got a really nice balance there, I think Sam Whitelock is an absolute legend of the game, he has to come back as well and you’ve got to find ways to fit him in. But I’ve really liked the way that they’ve looked and the way that forward pack is functioning.

“I think Scott Barrett’s been excellent and I think (Shannon) Frizell was excellent on the weekend as well.”

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Frizell and Barrett lining up alongside one another in Foster’s preffered starting unit seemed unlikely just a month ago, when the discussion was centred around which of the two would start at blindside flanker.

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Whitelock’s experience will inevitably play a major role in the All Blacks’ World Cup campaign regardless, being a lineout mastermind and bringing that expertise to the scouting report.

Scott’s selection push may well result in all three Barrett brothers not just making the All Blacks’ starting XV but featuring in decisive positions across the park.

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Ruby 351 days ago

All of the conversation seems to revolve around benching Scott or Sam, why not Brodie? Sam has long, effective partnerships with both Scott and Brodie, one with the All Blacks and the other with the Crusaders, Scott has been our best Forward during the RC so it would be stupid to limit his game time to 30 minutes.

Start Scott with Whitelock and have Brodie on the bench for late game impact.

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