Patrick McKendry is a rugby and boxing writer for the Herald.

Tana Umaga not confident of Blues signing Beauden Barrett

Beauden Barrett of the All Blacks reacts during the International Test match against Wales at Forsyth Barr Stadium. Photo / Getty
Beauden Barrett of the All Blacks reacts during the International Test match against Wales at Forsyth Barr Stadium. Photo / Getty

The offer stands, but Blues coach Tana Umaga is doubtful Beauden Barrett will move to Auckland from the Hurricanes next year.

Many long-suffering Blues supporters will continue to hope because if Barrett decided to move north, the signing of the first five-eighths would probably trump that of Sonny Bill Williams and Augustine Pulu combined.

Barrett showed in the third test against Wales in Dunedin last weekend that he is probably neck-and-neck with Aaron Cruden as the country's best No 10. He's probably also at a similar level as far as fullback is concerned - possibly alongside Israel Dagg chasing Ben Smith.

Having the 25-year-old steering the ship between halfback Pulu and second-five Williams would take the Blues to a different level, but Umaga appears resigned to the fact Barrett won't be coming.

"He's on fire at the moment and I suppose it doesn't matter where he plays, as long as he's on the field he makes things happen," said Umaga, who is preparing his team to play the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday.

"In terms of our interest in him, it's no secret. Everyone knows we are looking for a No 10."

"He's a No 10 and he's off contract, but it would be hard to see him move from there. We're like anyone, we've shown interest and we'll see how that goes. But we not banking on him leaving because he's such an integral part [of the team] down there."

The recent speculation about Barrett's move appears to have been fuelled by wishful thinking. It is understood the Blues indicated their interest but haven't talked to Barrett or his representatives.

Barrett's value at the Hurricanes, meanwhile, is rising all the time.

When asked if he would be surprised if Barrett left the franchise he has represented for seven years, Umaga said: "I would actually, but look what happened to Tevita [Li]. He wants to challenge himself and further himself in that way. He might do the same, you just never know."

Wing Li recently announced he will move to the Highlanders after this season, deciding he wants to challenge himself away from the Blues' environment in much the same way Malakai Fekitoa did - although Fekitoa has flourished in the south after not being wanted in Auckland.

"He had an offer from us," Umaga said of Li.

"We talked at length about where he wants to go and what his goals are. Sometimes you can get comfortable being where you are. At home, everything is here. We talked about him getting out of his comfort zone. He probably needs things like that to make him accountable to himself. To his credit, he made a tough decision to leave his family. We wanted him."

Umaga has the advantage of being able to start rested All Blacks Jerome Kaino and Patrick Tuipulotu against the Hurricanes after they didn't take part in last weekend's test against Wales but, as expected, George Moala and Charlie Faumuina have been ruled out by elbow and knee injuries respectively.

Lineups for Blues vs Hurricanes at Westpac Stadium on Saturday, kick-off 7.35pm.

Blues: Melani Nanai, Matt Duffie, Male Sa'u, Piers Francis, Tevita Li, Ihaia West, Bryn Hall, Steven Luatua, Kara Pryor, Jerome Kaino, Josh Bekhuis, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, James Parsons (c), Sam Prattley.

Reserves: Quentin MacDonald, Namatahi Waa, Sione Mafileo, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti/Hoani Matenga, Blake Gibson, Billy Guyton, Matt McGahon, Matt Vaega/Lolagi Visinia.

Hurricanes: James Marshall, Cory Jane, Matt Proctor, Vince Aso, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Victor Vito, Ardie Savea, Brad Shields, Michael Fatialofa, Vaea Fifita, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Dane Coles (c), Reggie Goodes.

Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli, Chris Eves, Loni Uhila, Mark Abbott, Tony Lamborn, Jamison Gibson Park, Willis Halaholo, Jason Woodward.

- NZ Herald

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