Beauden's Blues move confirmed
NEWS: It was first whispered, then talked about and now confirmed. Beauden Barrett has signed with the Blues.
The two-time World Rugby Player of the Year, Barrett, has announced a new deal with New Zealand Rugby, which will see him stay in New Zealand through to the 2023 World Cup.
Barrett also confirmed that not only will he stay with NZRU for a further four years, but he will move from the Hurricanes to the Blues to play in the Super Rugby competition from 2020.
The 28-year-old Barrett has played 73 Tests for the All Blacks since making his debut in 2012 and 125 times for the Hurricanes since his Super Rugby debut in 2011.
As part of his new contract, he will take an extended break away from the game at the end of 2019 and start with the Blues midway through next year’s Super season.
He also has an option to take a short playing break in Japan some time over the next four years, with any break to be negotiated with NZRU and the Blues.
Barrett said he was stoked to finally make a decision and confirm his future with New Zealand Rugby and the Blues.
“This is obviously a massive decision for me and my wife Hannah and we’re really looking forward to the next chapter of our lives,” he said.
“The Hurricanes will always be a huge part of who I am.
“The Hurricanes environment and style of rugby they play has helped me become the player I am today, and I’ll be leaving some very good mates.
“Wellington has been my rugby base for many years and university base for Hannah and we’ll always have fond memories of living there.
“Home for us now is Taranaki and Auckland and home and family are immensely important to both of us.
“I’m also enthusiastic about the new challenge I’ll get with the Blues over the next four years. They’re a team on the rise, I like the way they play and I’m really looking forward to being a part of that.
“While I’m looking forward to what the future holds, right now my focus is on the international season ahead with the All Blacks.”
— The Blues (@BluesRugbyTeam) July 11, 2019
NZRU CEO Steve Tew said the significance of Barrett’s decision could not be underestimated.
“We are absolutely delighted that Beauden has committed to four more years with New Zealand Rugby. He joins a strong core of experienced Test players who are now with us leading into the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
“There is no doubting how important he is to the All Blacks and every team he plays for. As well as his on-field achievements, including back-to-back World Rugby Player of the Year awards in 2016-2017, he has also amassed numerous records, including being fourth on the All Blacks Test points-scoring list. He is now a genuine leader in any team he plays and a strong contributor to our off-field responsibilities.
“We all look forward to seeing him back in black for the international season and also wish him all the best with his move to the Blues next year.”
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen added: “It’s fantastic news for the All Blacks and obviously for the Blues as well and we congratulate Beaudy and his wife Hannah on his decision to stay in New Zealand.
“He’s one of the best players in the world, a leader in our team and has been involved in numerous successful campaigns, from Rugby World Cups to Bledisloe Cups, and I believe he’s going to get even better.
“Knowing he will be here through to the 2023 Rugby World Cup is massive for the All Blacks as they move into a new phase post-2019.”
Barrett’s move to the Blues is arguably the most significant recent signing in Super Rugby and Blues Chief Executive Michael Redman said it was the result of a rebuilding of the franchise both on and off the field, a process that began some years ago and has accelerated in the last 12 months.
“Signing a player of Beauden’s calibre has been years in the making,” Redman said.
“While Beauden’s personal circumstances created this opportunity, changes we’ve made to our franchise in recent years meant for the first time the Blues were a credible option for him. The process has been long and complex, but we believe the outcome is the most influential player movement in Super Rugby history.”
Blues Head Coach Leon MacDonald said they were over the moon at the news that Barrett would be coming to Auckland.
“It’s huge for our franchise. As well as getting a world-class player, our young first-fives will flourish with the opportunity to train and play alongside Beauden, and I am sure he will be an immediate fan favourite at Eden Park.
“We are happy to work with Beauden and New Zealand Rugby on the options he has negotiated for an extended break at the end of the year and potential offshore playing opportunity. He has earned that right,” said MacDonald.
— Hurricanes Rugby (@Hurricanesrugby) July 11, 2019
The decision by the record points scorer to leave the Hurricanes was met with considerable disappointment from everyone at the Wellington-based franchise.
Hurricanes Chief Executive Avan Lee understood the rationale behind Barrett’s decision to leave the only Super Rugby franchise he has represented.
“We know Beauden plans to live in Auckland but we wanted to reach an agreement which would have still kept him at the Hurricanes for at least some of the four years,” he said.
“Given the flexibility that is being afforded our top players to keep them involved in New Zealand rugby, we hoped that Beauden’s long and distinguished career would continue at the Hurricanes. The process has been challenging but we sincerely thank him for everything he has done for the Hurricanes. He has been a great ambassador for our franchise and we wish him well.
“Beauden has made it clear that his decision to leave the Hurricanes were for non-rugby reasons and we respect that. He leaves us as someone who has made a contribution few can compare to and we thank him for that.”
The 28-year-old made 125 appearances for the Hurricanes, fourth only to Thomas Perenara, Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith.
His career included two Super Rugby final and three semi-final appearances.
He has been the top points scorer in seven of the nine seasons and will always have a special place in the memories of the thousands of Hurricanes fans right around the world.