Rugby World Cup: Sky Sport commentator Tony Johnson fears judiciary backlash against All Blacks' Scott Barrett

Veteran Sky Sport commentator Tony Johnson fears a judicial backlash against All Blacks lock Scott Barrett, after he was red-carded in the record defeat to South Africa at Twickenham.

With the Rugby World Cup just two weeks away, Barrett drew his first yellow card for offside, after his team were warned for repeated infringements in the first half.

His second - and subsequent red - came after he dived into a ruck and made head contact with Springboks hooker Malcolm Marx.

Barrett became the first All Black red-carded twice out of test matches, after his shoulder charge on Wallabies captain Michael Hooper in 2019, and left his team shorthanded for the entire second half against the defending world champions.

Scott Barrett receives his second yellow card and Tony Johnson fears the worst.
Scott Barrett receives his second yellow card and Tony Johnson fears the worst. Photo credit: Getty/AM

"The Barrett thing is a worry," Johnson told AM. "He had been their best player this year.

"He had been at the forefront of what had been, until Saturday, a controlled aggression that had served them so well. What he's done here is reckless, careless and probably not very smart.

"I'm not sure that it really gets into the category of absolute foul play. The yellow card wasn't upgraded to a red, so that's got to be in his favour."

While neither of Barrett's offences alone may warrant suspension, he has a track record and may also suffer from the recent controversy around England captain Owen Farrell's judicial misadventures.

Farrell was red-carded for a high tackle against Wales, was initially cleared by the independent judiciary, but suspended, only after World Rugby appealed that decision.

"This is the concern I've got now," said Johnson. "There has been a massive amount of criticism aimed at the judicial process, particularly in light of the lame treatment of a recidivist offender like Owen Farrell.

"Are they going draw themselves up to their full height now, and make an example of someone before the tournament starts and throw the book at him? That's got to be the worry.

"Maybe they [the All Blacks] should be on the phone to Owen Farrell's lawyer."

After an eventual weekend of final warm-up games, Johnson sees France, South Africa and Ireland as World Cup favourites, with the All Blacks maybe fourth.

"Which is not a bad place to be," he offered hopefully.

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