Super Rugby Pacific: Scott Robertson reveals how he got NZ Rugby to grant All Blacks lock Scott Barrett rest exemption

It seems NZ Rugby needed little convincing from soon-to-be All Blacks coach Scott Robertson to let Crusaders captain Scott Barrett play another week of Super Rugby Pacific.

The All Blacks lock was supposed to sit out Friday's clash with the Reds as part of NZR's rest protocols in World Cup year.

As part of an effort to keep the All Blacks fresh for the World Cup, players are permitted to play no more than five successive Super Rugby matches this season.

Instead, after a brief conversation, Barrett will now play a sixth straight match, after the Crusaders sought exemption due to a locking crisis.

The veteran is the only contracted player in the position that isn't injured, as Kiwi Super Rugby sides scramble to field teams.

Robertson revealed Barrett will now miss next week's match against Moana Pasifika, before the Crusaders head into their bye week.

Scott Barrett and Robertson.
Scott Barrett and Robertson. Photo credit: Getty Images

"With Scott, there are individualised programs, and they can be adaptable depending on the situation," he said.

"The great thing is he gets two weeks after this - a clear break with the bye. We've managed him well and he's in good condition.

"That's the good part about it, they said 'yup, we're happy for you to do it' and there's a process, and they said yes."

With locks Sam Whitelock and Quinten Strange still nursing injuries, and Mitchell Dunshea ruled out of the season, the Crusaders have just Barrett and Zach Gallagher left standing.

When asked just how exactly the conversion with NZ Rugby went, Robertson suggested it wasn't difficult to plead their case.

"Ask him if he can play and they said yes," he said.

"Obviously, we had four of our locks out, they considered it and realised we've done a good job managing him off the field. He's in good nick, and he gets a two-week break after.

"It's good when you work with them and collaborate with them, they're great."

The Crusaders will now travel to Brisbane to play the sixth-placed Reds without the services of All Blacks Sevu Reece and Ethan Blackadder.

Reece will miss the rest of 2023 with a serious knee injury, while Blackadder will be out for six weeks with a calf tear.

Despite having not lost to the Reds since the 2011 Super Rugby final, Robertson expects a tough match, as they look ahead to their week off.

"When we played them last year at home, a couple of those matches were tight for long periods of time," he said.

"We just managed to get a couple of scores in the last 20 minutes after long periods of pressure on top of them. They'll fight, we know that and we're ready, and we're planning for it.

"Your bye is important for a lot of reasons, it's your first stop in the season to step away from the rugby in the grind of the days. You've also got to respect the team that's in front of you."

Join Newshub 9:35pm Friday for live updates of Crusaders v Reds Super Rugby Pacific clash