Retallick credited with locking revolution

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Sunday Times rugby writer, and former England and British & Irish Lions five-eighths, Stuart Barnes in assessing the transformation that has come over the locking game in international rugby said that Retallick had 'played the revolutionary role in the expansion of a second row's repertoire of skills'.


"In the era of Dan Carter, it was the lanky lock forward who changed the shape of attacking rugby," Barnes said.


"Standing at either first or second receiver, he has the skill to time a pass to put a teammate through the gap, or pull back a pass to a second-wave running into space from deep.


"The three-man pod and the secondary surge of backs is the shape of 21st-Century attacking rugby. Outside New Zealand it was mainly imitation. None could do it like Retallick, the man who changed offensive rugby as much, if not more, than other player," he said.


Other teams had been quick to try and make their own changes in order to compete with Retallick, who also demonstrated his running ability and innate attacking charm with a superlative dummy and try that saw his effort rated the try of the year in 2018 at the World Rugby awards.


Barnes said among international rivals Welsh captain Alun Wyn Jones had changed his style to add the offload pass to his usual repertoire of jumping, pushing, carrying and tackling. He did enough to be regarded as one of the great Wales locking performers.


By comparison, Fijian Leone Nakarawa was in a class of his own as a one-off who was difficult to pigeonhole. Because of this he was outside consideration as a contributor to the revolutionary shift in the game.


"Soon there will be locks found to add this extra dimension to a team. A conveyor belt of Nakarawas would be the quantum leap of locks from the second to third decade of this century.


"It is hard to imagine the position continuing to change as it has for the past decade. The merging of the position's basic skills, the athletic excellence brought to both attack and defence and, of course, the redefined art of midfield distribution as originated with that long, tall drink, Retallick, is a revolution that overwhelms any other positional growth in the game," Barnes said.


For the moment, players like Ireland's James Ryan and England's Maro Itoje were still developing by comparison with the New Zealander but both were capable of making their own impact in the 2020s.


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