Confusion surrounds Beauden Barrett's future
July 3, 2014
Beauden Barrett has been imperious with the Hurricanes this season © Getty Images
The Super Rugby future of one of world rugby's brightest talents is causing conjecture for the second year in succession, with Blues coach Sir John Kirwan denying he's after Beauden Barrett while the Hurricanes fly-half says he is considering the Blues advances
Barrett took several months to weigh his options last year, deciding to sign for another season in Wellington after considering an offer from the Blues. Kirwan said last year that Barrett remained with the Hurricanes "for reasons of loyalty", while the playmaker himself said "I feel we have unfinished business", but the New Zealand Press Association reported this week that Barrett was understand to be "close to moving to the Blues last year but Kirwan's interest in [Benji] Marshall muddied the waters". The Blues ultimately lured Marshall across the Tasman, but that experiment failed and the former New Zealand rugby league captain returned to the NRL premiership in Australia.
A similar scenario is unfolding again this season - without the shadow of Marshall - with Barrett saying he is keen to make a decision between the Blues and the Hurricanes next week, after the Canes have played their final regular-season game.
Kirwan said this week that the Blues had decided they wouldn't pursue Barrett, as they were happy with playmakers Ihaia West and Simon Hickey "so we're going to go internally" for next year. He has also signed former Crusaders inside back Dan Bowden following a stint at Leicester Tigers in the Aviva Premiership in England.
But Kirwan's line didn't ring true on when Barrett confirmed a Blues offer was "in the pipeline", the player saying he would discuss it with his agent.
"Where I'm playing, whether it's at the Hurricanes or the Blues, I'm not too sure yet," Barrett said.
"Pros and cons? I'm pretty content here in Wellington; I love the place, love the team. Up at the Blues, there is an opportunity. I think they might be missing a few of the big coaches [Graham Henry and Mick Byrne are finishing] but JK [Kirwan] will still be in charge."
Barrett has worked previously at age group level with incoming Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd, who replaces the departing Mark Hammett for next season, but he says coaching staff is only one consideration.
"Obviously, you've got to look at the playing personnel around you," he said. "It's all about developing your game and whatever franchise can help me best do that is a big factor."
Barrett had developed his attacking game again this year, while he has advanced his game management to another level.
He has scored 173 points the season - 35 more than any other player in Super Rugby - and he impressed in his three appearances for the All Blacks off the bench against England.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The latest Week in Pictures takes in all the action from the weekend when rugby united behind Samoa
England broke their losing streak, but this was not them clawing their way back among the best, writes Tom Hamilton
Wales' lessons to learn in defeat by New Zealand are almost exactly the same as those from previous near-misses, writes Huw Richards
Scrum Sevens takes a wander down memory lane and celebrates seven examples of Pacific Islands magic