Scott Barrett has learnt his lesson.

In the aftermath of his red card for a shoulder charge on Michael Hooper in the record defeat to the Wallabies in Perth last month, Barrett believes he has amended the flaws in his tackling technique.

In many ways the incident was much more unfortunate than malicious. Wallabies captain Hooper lunged low and Barrett, attempting to defend his line, made contact high which led to French referee Jerome Garces opting to send him off, forcing the All Blacks to play the entire second half with 14 men.

Scott Barrett of New Zealand is sent off against Australia. Photo / Getty
Scott Barrett of New Zealand is sent off against Australia. Photo / Getty

Since Barrett's sending off there have been similar incidents, one in particular involving Irish lock Devin Toner, that went unpunished on the field and without citing post match to highlight the inconsistent officiating this area.


While Brodie Retallick continues his recovery from a shoulder injury, Barrett appeared to fall behind Patrick Tuipulotu in the pecking order as the big Blues lock impressed in the return Bledisloe Cup victory and then got the nod to start the final Rugby World Cup warm-up test against Tonga.

But for the All Blacks' World Cup opener against the Springboks in Yokohama this weekend, Barrett returns for his first start since Perth. He is confident when a similar collision arises, there will be no repeat of putting the All Blacks under such intense pressure.

"There's obviously a fine line. I've learnt from that and I'm keen to move on," Barrett said after being named to start alongside Sam Whitelock, with Tuipulotu to come off the bench. "The laws are there for a reason to protect players and player welfare so I've been working hard and keen to address those wrongdoings."

With physical contact only increasing and athletes often making split decisions the risk of dangerous tackles are ever-present, especially around the breakdown when it can be difficult to get lower than the attacking ball carrier.

Barrett, though, accepts his mistake and has worked on ensuring it will not happen again.

"It's your training so when you are under pressure and fatigue at the end of a long half you're going to go back to your habits. Possibly I had a bad habit in the past but I've addressed that. Getting the height in the tackle is a big part of that – that's what I've been working on."

With the erratic Garces set to again take charge of the All Blacks and Boks, and World Rugby intent on cracking down on any contact with the head, the potential of cards being handed out for both teams is at short odds.

"All the refs will be reffing it the same. We've had the briefing so we're well aware of how they're going to be ruling high shots or foul play."