Owen Farrell This is another beautiful constituent!
Beauden, Scott and Jordie Barrett encapsulate almost all of the aspects of all the brothers that have come before — they are, in effect, the ultimate set for the modern age of All Blacks rugby.
It’s hard to go past any piece of punditry about the Taranaki family that doesn’t mention how their dad Kevin “Smiley” Barrett played flanker for the Hurricanes in the first years of Super Rugby, and about how he announced once he retired that he was “off to make some All Blacks”.
Like all myths, while it sounds good, it isn’t true. By the time Smiley had played his last game for the Hurricanes, a semifinal loss to the Brumbies in Canberra to conclude their stunning 1997 season, all his future All Blacks sons had already been born.
By then, Beauden was six years old, Scott four and Jordie three months old. His eldest son Kane would also go on to a professional rugby career, and Smiley and mother Robyn would add Blake, Zara, Ella and Jenna in the next few years.
The Barrett family shifted to Meath in Ireland in 2000, where Smiley worked as a farm manager and the oldest boys played Gaelic football. You don’t need to be an expert on the sport to know that some of its key skill sets are more than useful when transferred to rugby, and that’s exactly what they did when they returned to New Zealand after a year-and-a-half.
Like the Meads, one of the brothers is far more prominent than the others. Beauden, the human highlight reel of a first-five, has widely been regarded as the best player in the world for most of his career. In fact, he’s been officially bestowed with that honour twice.
Beauden Barrett’s name is now in the realms of superstar status.
But, like the Clarkes, the brother in the engine room is a complete contrast to the flashy skills of the other two. Scott has developed as an outstanding lock, grafting away to provide the ball supply his brothers can turn into tries.
Like the Whettons, they hold a record in terms of brotherhood as the only three brothers to have played a test together. Also, like AJ, one of them spent a frustrating period at the start of his career waiting for an opportunity to make a starting place his own. When Beauden did, he grabbed it with both hands and became the pre-eminent player in his position.
Like the Saveas, there will be massive conjecture as to where their post-All Blacks careers will take them. Already, Beauden is being lined up to be farmed out for a year in Japan so the All Blacks can retain his services while having someone else pay the wages he’s probably worth.
Exactly where Jordie finds himself after the World Cup in 2019 may well be part of the ongoing saga of offshore player drain and of what happens to the All Blacks if they decide to go or stay.
Beauden was the first of the brothers to make the All Blacks, but if you were to make a prediction as to how his career was going to pan out halfway through 2015, it seemed like he was on course to become the most prolific bench player of all time: 33 of his first 39 appearances for the All Blacks since his debut against Ireland in 2012.
He had had a few starts in 2014, one of which was an epic loss to the Springboks at Ellis Park. By now, Dan Carter had returned to be the starting first-five, though he was beginning to come under immense pressure from Aaron Cruden.
Beauden’s utility value was a blessing and a curse — it meant he probably wouldn’t get a starting shot at either first-five or fullback, because he was more useful on the bench as cover for both.
Even the fact his attacking flair was on show when he’d be injected into the game seemed to be evidence that he was better suited to come in and finish a game off, rather than be trusted to run the backline from kick-off.
His first test start came at fullback anyway, and the general consensus was that it was there that he would be most useful. Which is why, by the time the World Cup year came around, his name barely featured in what would become the prime debate of the season.
A lot of folks like to give the New Zealand Herald’s sports columnist Chris Rattue an inordinate amount of grief for his bold and ultimately highly inaccurate prediction that Carter ought to have been dropped for the World Cup campaign. It’s unfair, given that at the time, Rattue and quite a lot of others were working off the basis that Cruden would be the one to take over. That wasn’t such a stretch at the time — Cruden had recently won two Super Rugby titles with the Chiefs and was in hot form. Also, by then Carter was 33.
Unfortunately for Rattue and everyone else in that camp, Cruden broke his leg in the lead-up to the tournament. If he’d stayed fit and started, this story may well have been different.
Instead, Carter played, found some of the form that made him the best player in the world for a good chunk of the last decade, and then played a superb game in the final at Twickenham. The moment belonged to him, scoring 19 points including a long-range dropped goal in the 34-17 win over the Wallabies. But, in a portent of things to come, Beauden came on to the field and scored the last try —chasing down a kick ahead by Ben Smith to outgun the tired defenders and sealing the win. But it didn’t just do that — his performances across the tournament, including getting a start at first-five against Namibia, effectively cleared the slate for the next year’s battle for the starting spot with Cruden.
It also helped that in 2016 his Hurricanes side finally broke through and won a Super Rugby title, after 20 seasons of trying.
Beauden was a leading hand in what ended up being the most thrilling regular-season finish in the tournament’s history, with the Hurricanes leaping from fifth to first on the table with a 35-10 win over Scott’s Crusaders side, even scoring a cheeky try to finish the game. He got another a few weeks later in the final against the Lions at a frozen Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
One of the games they’d dropped in the course of the season was a 28-27 result to Cruden’s Chiefs. Steve Hansen went with Cruden for the first two tests of the year against Wales. The first was a scratchy 39-21 win at Eden Park, which the Welsh had even led at halftime. While Cruden’s injury that kept him out of the World Cup had left the door ajar for Beauden, th
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