Dylan Cleaver on sport
Sport analysis and comment from Dylan Cleaver

Midweek Fixture: Why Beauden Barrett will stay put

By Dylan Cleaver

The jungle drums, right up there with bagpipes and the vuvuzela as my least favourite instrument, are again beating for Beauden Barrett to make the move north to the Blues.

It's hard to blame the Blues for trying. Barrett is coming off contract and it is barely overstating it to suggest he has quickly become one of the most marketable players in the world. Dan Carter, still, and Sonny Bill Williams are probably out on their own but Barrett would now sit in a group just below that, which would include Israel Folau and rising England superstar Maro Itoje.

He has blinding pace, can identify a defender's weak shoulder just about quicker than anybody else and is deceptively big and strong. While his goalkicking has improved of late, you'd still be on safer ground investing in Greek bonds than backing Barrett to kick you to victory, but the strength of his running game is such that his balance of payments remains firmly in the positive.

Would he be a good signing for the Blues? Would he what.

Would it make sense for him to come to the Blues? Only if his motivation is money.

What the Blues want Barrett to do for them he is already doing for the Hurricanes. The difference is he's doing it in a more stable environment and he's doing it for a side and fanbase that means more to him (Taranaki were still ostensibly part of the Hurricanes catchment when Barrett broke through in 2011).

Professionalism and loyalty are often contradicting forces but they needn't be in this case. While the Blues might be able to offer a little more lucre, Pungarehu-raised Barrett is in no danger of retiring to the poor farm.

New Zealand Rugby is desperate for Auckland to become a force in the sport again. With one-third of your country's population there, that's understandable, but the perception from some that Barrett will be moving up in the world if he decamps to Remuera's lower slopes will be deeply offensive.

"This is the place to be commercially. Look at Daniel Carter, he's hanging out with Lewis Hamilton and people like that, and the place you can do that is Auckland," said Sir John Kirwan, to the groans of many.

There is all sorts of wrong in the statement but we'll just start with the small fact that Carter rejected similar overtures to play for the Blues and ended his Super Rugby days as a perfectly contented one-team man.

More sensible, but not necessarily more persuasive, was Gregor Paul's assertion in May that Barrett needed to make the move north to deliver "a statement of intent" to the All Blacks selectors.

"He'd be the first superstar No 10 at the club since Carlos Spencer left in 2005 and be it real or perceived, he'd be under constant public pressure to transform the Blues into champions on the strength of his tactical control and game management.

"If he shifted it would be a clear message to the selectors that he's willing to risk plenty to try to become the player they need him to be."

There is a strong internal logic running through this but it is not necessarily evident to anybody living outside the Blues region. In fact, a far greater statement of intent was delivered in a black jersey on Saturday night, when he demonstrated that he was the most dynamic first-five in the country.

If Super Rugby is where statements are delivered, driving the Hurricanes to a maiden title would be as powerful a message as the shifting of Spencer's shadow.

Barrett to the Blues, eh. It's fine to speculate, even to agitate for a shift, but the most pertinent fact remains this (and it is something Sir John should be acutely aware of): it would have saved a lot of time and trouble if they'd spent at least part of the last 11 years developing their own world-class talent.

Wonder what Nick Evans was up to during that time?


I'm buying... Noeline Taurua

Well now, this is just getting plain awkward for Netball New Zealand. Through no fault of her own Janine Southby is now under considerable pressure to transform the Silver Ferns - and they haven't played a game under her watch yet. Because Taurua, overlooked for the position, has done exactly that with Southby's old team the Southern Steel. Oh, and there's the small fact she will go down in history as the only coach to lead a New Zealand team to a transtasman netball title. It is reasonable to conclude, then, that she was overqualified for the Ferns' job.

I'm selling... England

Too easy, I know, but if you can't smile at the fact most of Europe spent the past week hating England, then spent all of yesterday laughing at them, then what can you smile at? A text message from a reader who shall only be known as Stuart of Mairangi Bay, summed it up drolly: "Yes, throwing the Iceland game might seem like madness... But we're tired of experts."


So this is what Lauren Boyle is up against. A fascinating insight from the Washington Post into the world of Katie Ledecky, with a headline worthy of the piece.


Minor setback.

Last week: Went for a five-legged all-Australian multi and was feeling smug when Queensland and Collingwood came through. The rest were red-hot favourites and Richmond and GWS did their jobs, but somehow Geelong were tripped up by St Kilda. I'm tempted to say I bit off one more leg than I should have, but even so, Geelong would not have been the one I dropped.

This week: A grumpy multi that sees Sydney Swans beat Western Bulldogs, the Brumbies beat the Reds and France beat the giant-killing Iceland. That should gross $21.40.

Total spent: $200 Total collected: $264.65

- NZ Herald

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