Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Wynne Gray: Buy Beaudy clamour ignores skills of West

Beauden Barrett is a gifted five-eighths. Photo / Getty Images
Beauden Barrett is a gifted five-eighths. Photo / Getty Images

Have you heard? Beauden Barrett is off contract, wouldn't he be a great fit at the Blues?

From that scuttlebutt, the tsunami of speculation evolves and by the time you have considered the implications, "Buy Beaudy" placards are being written and a street march planned around Eden Park.

Barrett is a gifted five-eighths who has been in strong form for the Hurricanes and unfurled his full range of talents for the All Blacks in last month's test series against Wales. His form will have added another edge to the conversations between the test selectors as they consider their plans for the start of the Bledisloe Cup series.

It has also produced a flurry of must-have pleas to the Blues about signing Barrett to the roster. For too long the Blues have been missing a backline general and Barrett would go a long way towards filling that void.

There's no doubt he would ramp up the team quality but would he be the best fit or a panacea for the problem franchise?

The Blues have signed Augustine Pulu and Sonny Bill Williams to add to the Rene Ranger, George Moala, Reiko Ioane, Melani Nanai firepower they can assemble.

That's a truckload of talent-at least on paper. Barrett would be the garnish or so the brigade brandishing their placards would suggest.

It's a theory which dismisses the skills of Ihaia West and forgets the difficulties of blending a battalion of stars. That works at international level but can be counter-productive when you are trying to integrate a Super Rugby side.

West is learning his trade and, like many young players who have been stars at lower levels in the game, is absorbing the lessons he has gleaned in three years with the Blues to attach to his natural ability.

The 24-year-old is some way from being a finished article, however there is better balance in the way West runs his work and the Blues.

Only someone like coach Tana Umaga will have an inkling about West's ability to absorb and deliver instructions but playing outside Pulu and alongside Williams or Moala next year should be another boost to his progress.

When West gets to the provincial series with Hawke's Bay he should build on his organisation skills and continue to refine his goal-kicking.

The Blues have started to move in the right direction this year. They are in the toughest section of the tournament but have improved on their standards and results.

West wants to be part of that deal and if Canes coach Chris Boyd is to be believed, Barrett is not moving from the Hurricanes setup. Neither is Otere Black so West and the Blues need to get on with their self-improvement.

- NZ Herald

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Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

The latest commentary and analysis from senior rugby writer Wynne Gray. Wynne has been covering the All Blacks for more than 27 years and has attended more than 230 All Blacks tests live for the Herald.

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