Barrett poised to equal world record
November 22, 2013
Beauden Barrett must win one more game to equal a world record of 16 wins in 16 Tests © Getty Images
Beauden Barrett's brilliant start to Test rugby leaves him poised to equal a world record held by rival for the All Blacks first five-eighth jersey Aaron Cruden. If Barrett makes an appearance off the reserve bench in a winning performance for New Zealand against Ireland on Sunday, it will be the 22-year-old's 16th win from his first 16 Tests.
That will be level with Cruden - who is wearing No.10 at Dublin - for the best start by any player to international rugby. Cruden set his streak from 2010 to 2012 on his way to becoming established as the second-choice playmaker for the All Blacks behind injured great Dan Carter.
Barrett accepts that while Carter and Cruden remain on top of their game, his opportunities to play will be infrequent. "Aaron's a world class player now. Obviously he and DC are in front of me and I'm just working hard to catch up," he said.
The versatile Taranaki back has started just two of his 15 Tests since debuting against Ireland in Hamilton 18 months ago.Those starts were against Italy and Japan and in his less-favoured position of fullback.
He has established a reputation as a gamebreaker off the reserve bench, slicing open tired defences late in Tests when replacing Carter or Cruden. The best example came in the memorable win over the Springboks in Johannesburg last month when his express pace saved a try, scored a try and set up a try in the frenetic closing stages of a 38-27 win.
Barrett says a Test in Ireland has special meaning after he spent 16 months in the country as a child. He and his seven siblings lived in Oldcastle, 100km inland from Dublin, in 2000-01 when his father Kevin played two seasons of club rugby. Barrett says the experience was memorable and he took time to visit Oldcastle after the completion of the All Blacks' tour of Europe last year.
One of the brightest talents in the world game, Barrett revealed more than one Irish club has approached him to sign what would need to be a lucrative contract for his services. "I don't know who I'd like to play for in particular but I'd never count it out," he said.
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham
"These little deft touches, the nuances O'Driscoll has perfected are what Ireland will miss most." Tom Hamilton on Brian O'Driscoll's final Test in Dublin
After Brian O'Driscoll's emotional final Ireland appearance on home soil, and seeing the Six Nations boil down to a three-horse race, we bring you the Weekend in PIctures
Last year's thrashing at the hands of Wales was not the first time England have fallen to their rivals. Scrum Sevens looks at whether they have bounced back the following year