Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

All Blacks: Barrett knows he has to get up to speed quickly

Beauden Barrett of the Hurricanes runs the ball. Photo / Getty Images
Beauden Barrett of the Hurricanes runs the ball. Photo / Getty Images

One, two, three, four ... As a 20-year-old who had only just finished his second ITM Cup season with Taranaki, even Beauden Barrett was beginning to fancy his chances of a call-up to the All Blacks World Cup squad last year.

The curse of the No10 jersey first struck Dan Carter and then Colin Slade and Aaron Cruden. In the end it was Stephen Donald who finished the job but the lesson - to be prepared for anything - was an important one for Barrett, now in the midst of playing only his first season of Super Rugby.

"I'll have to ask how far I was down the pecking order. Luckily enough there weren't too many more injuries, I ran out of games," he said with a smile today during his first media assignment after being named in the All Blacks' 30-man squad to play Ireland.

Now aged 21, Barrett is maturing into a first-five with plenty of talent and poise at the Hurricanes. Although he is ranked behind Carter and Cruden, he has quite rightly announced himself as ready to represent the All Blacks.

"I'm ready," he said. "I've just come off a good win over the Waratahs. We've had a pretty good season at the Canes. Even though we've set some high expectations we've still had some great victories and I'll take a lot of confidence from that.

"If it's next week I'll grab it with two hands but if it's a bit later down the track I'll be more than happy as well," he said of a possible All Blacks debut. "I'm just willing to learn and soak up the environment and advice. It's exciting times."

Exciting for his family too, of course, although he was surprised to find his father Kevin, a former lock or loose forward who played 167 games for Taranaki, was in bed late on Saturday night when he rang from Sydney with the good news.

"It was unusual for him to be in bed on a Saturday night. Normally he's out drinking with his club rugby mates because he's still running around," Barrett said. "He was rapt. He said he wasn't going back to bed after that."

Barrett played fullback at school and for the New Zealand Under-20 team last year and his ability to play at the back could be the difference between making the reserves bench and being left out of a matchday squad altogether.

He said he was comfortable at fullback but, having made the switch to first-five while playing under Gordon Tietjens for the New Zealand sevens team in 2010, that was where he felt most at home.

"It just felt right. I like having my hands on the ball and being involved and directing the ship."

Julian Savea is the other Hurricanes' new cap in the All Blacks squad and Barrett said the big wing's finishing ability was great for everyone's confidence.

"He's such a threat with ball in hand so it's great to play inside guys like that.

"He can chip, he can run around guys or he can run over them so he's the triple threat. There's no doubt the Irish will have to look out for him."

Savea, also 21, is a big chance to make his debut on the left wing for the first test at Eden Park on Saturday, saying: "Everyone's striving to start ... I feel like I'm ready, that's the reason why the coaches picked us. I'm just looking forward to getting stuck in this week."

- APNZ

Stats provided by

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 26 Oct 2014 19:15:54 Processing Time: 264ms