NZR might break own rule to accommodate Barrett
NEWS: New Zealand Rugby (NZR) is apparently willing to break one of its own rules in order to grant star utility back Beauden Barrett an exemption to continue his international career with the All Blacks while playing for an overseas club.
While NZR do not allow players playing outside the country to feature for the All Blacks at Test level, according to news reports Barrett has asked if he could still be considered to play for his country while representing a club based outside New Zealand.
His current contract with the All Blacks expires after the 2023 World Cup in France, but NZR has indicated it raised a “possible option” of the 31-year-old extending his Test career if its board agreed to an exemption.
Barrett’s manager, Warren Alcock, confirmed that Barrett was looking at a two-year contract to further his career at an overseas-based club.
“In discussions with Beauden about his potential to remain in New Zealand beyond the World Cup, NZR management raised a possible option of him playing for the All Blacks in between participating in offshore competitions in one year of a much longer term,” NZR said in a statement.
“All parties were aware that further discussion and decision on this remained subject to NZR board decision.
“Any suggestion that Beauden proactively came to NZR seeking exceptional treatment is incorrect. He remains a highly regarded employee of NZR.”
The NZ Rugby board rejected the proposal for Barrett to play offshore for two seasons while still being eligible for the All Blacks in 2024 before re-signing mid-way through 2025.
Barrett, who has been playing his club rugby for the Blues after representing the Hurricanes from 2011 to 2019, said he would never have asked NZR for a special exemption.
“Like a lot of players at this stage of their career, I’m considering my options for 2024 and beyond and when the contract people at NZR mentioned the possibility that I could play two years of club football overseas and remain available for the All Blacks I was obviously willing to listen,” the 112-Test All Black told The Spinoff.
“I love playing for the All Blacks and still believe I have something to offer, but as my career is nearer the end than the start, I’m also keen to explore other options and experiences.
“I was really disappointed by the [report’s] implication that I’d tried to put myself above the rules, though. One of the first things that’s drummed into you in rugby is that nobody is bigger than the team, and I believe in that idea wholeheartedly.”
He said NZ Rugby offered an “alternative proposal”, which gave Barrett the chance to reconsider his plans after next year’s World Cup.
“From our point of view, we saw this as NZR trying to retain talent, and I don’t think you can criticise them for being innovative in doing their job,” Alcock told The Spinoff.