Who will win tug-of-war for Beauden Barrett services?
SUPER RUGBY SPOTLIGHT: Speculation is rife about Beauden Barrett making a potential shock move from the Hurricanes to the Blues.
However, but the Wellington-based franchise is not giving up on their star man just yet.
The New Zealand Herald reported that the Blues are chasing the signature of the two-time World Player of the Year in a monumental move that could have significant implications on future results for both franchises.
It isn’t the first time the Auckland-based side have pursued the signature of the 28-year-old playmaker, as he turned down an offer to sign with the three-time champions in 2016 – instead choosing to stay on with the Hurricanes, the side that he has been part of since 2011.
However, a Hurricanes spokesperson told Stuff that the franchise is still talking to Barrett, who is off contract with New Zealand Rugby at the end of the year, and his representatives as he assesses his playing options beyond 2019.
“Given Beauden is off contract currently, there is always bound to be a great deal of speculation as to his future,” the spokesperson said.
“He will always be in demand at a large number of clubs throughout the world.
“We can’t progress anything past that point at the moment, but we will continue to talk to Beauden, who has been a long-serving and stand out player for the Hurricanes.”
Blues Chief Executive Michael Redman told Stuff in a statement that he won’t publicly discuss the attempted acquisition of Barrett or any other player.
“Our policy remains unchanged that we never comment on speculation around player or staff recruitment,” he said.
The Blues have been desperate for a world-class flyhalf since the departure of Carlos Spencer in 2005, and their inability to unearth a star playmaker has been a major factor in their title drought, which has lasted since 2003.
Since then, they have unsuccessfully tried to persuade the likes of Barrett, as well as former Crusaders and All Blacks legend Dan Carter to move north.
The signature of Rugby League star Benji Marshall for the 2014 campaign brought with it a lot of fanfare, but the 27-Test Kiwi pivot was a flop – playing in six matches and scoring just nine points before moving back to Sydney to play for the St George-Illawarra Dragons in the NRL.
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In Otere Black, Stephen Perofeta and Harry Plummer, the Blues side already have three flyhalves signed on for next year.
However, should the Blues sign Barrett, the 73-Test All Black would be unlikely to play for them until the 2021 season, as it is believed he is expected to take a sabbatical in the Japanese Top League in 2020.
What’s more, is that the impact of that unlikely transfer could trigger another remarkable player movement between New Zealand clubs.
Barrett’s All Blacks and Hurricanes teammate and younger brother, Jordie, is also off-contract with NZR at the end of this year and is yet to announce his decision on his playing future.
Should Beauden opt to leave the Hurricanes and move to the Blues via the Top League, a shift may be on the cards for Jordie as well.
The presence of Beauden within the Hurricanes squad played a big part in his signing with the club ahead of the 2017 season, especially given he was offered a contract by the Crusaders while he was playing in the NPC for Canterbury in 2016.
With older brother Scott still a prominent member of the back-to-back reigning Super Rugby champions, the departure of Beauden from the nation’s capital could make a move back to Christchurch an appealing option for Jordie.
Jordie’s versatility is a key aspect of his game – he can play fullback, wing, both midfield positions and can even cover at No.10 – and with Ryan Crotty leaving for the Kubota Spears in Japan after this year’s World Cup and the anticipated exit of the long-serving Tim Bateman, up to two spots could open up in the Crusaders’ midfield for next year’s squad.
The opportunity to link up with All Black teammate Jack Goodhue to form a formidable No.12-No.13 partnership could be a tantalising prospect for the 22-year-old, not to mention the chance to play Super Rugby alongside another one of his four brothers.
A backline re-shuffle could also see David Havili, Braydon Ennor or Ngane Punivai move into the centres, freeing up room for Jordie to play in his preferred position of fullback alongside a raft of extremely talented outside backs within the Crusaders’ ranks, which includes George Bridge, Sevu Reece, Will Jordan, Leicester Fainga’anuku and Manasa Mataele.
However, one would expect the Hurricanes to do everything in their power to prevent one, let alone two, of the Barrett brothers from leaving their squad.
Regardless of whether Beauden decides to stay or leave the Hurricanes, the ramifications of his decision could prove to be massive.
Sources: NZ Herald & RugbyPass