It's true that Beauden Barrett would almost certainly become the highest paid rugby player in history if he chooses to leave New Zealand after the next World Cup.

Who knows how much a French club owner with a bank balance as big as his ego would be willing to offer Barrett ... $3 million a season? Maybe $4 million? Possibly $5 million?

The player market doesn't comply necessarily to supply and demand economics but is instead driven by emotion and vanity, so when a player such as Barrett comes along and is capable of wielding such incredible influence, logic and rationale go out the window.

But it is also true that the prospect of Barrett choosing to leave New Zealand after the next World Cup is slim.


New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew has said Barrett, who is contracted to the end of 2019, is, in theory, an enhanced flight risk following his virtuoso performance at Eden Park in the second Bledisloe Cup test.

Tew believes Barrett's 30-point haul will have upped his value in the European market and widened the gap between what the All Blacks No 10 can earn here and what he would be able to make at an offshore glamour club.

But, again, while it's true Barrett has enhanced his standing as the world's most coveted player, it's not true to believe he's more of a flight risk this week than last.

Nor should it be overlooked that NZR is trying to pull a few emotional levers in its quest to source more funding.

For the past few years, NZR has spent between $5 million and $7 million more than it has earned — a scenario that is not sustainable longer term.

It either needs to find more revenue or cut costs and Tew is perhaps, through inference, indulging in a touch of emotional blackmail by suggesting that unless someone (and his sights are now set on the Government) stumps up more cash, then the nation might have to resign itself to losing Barrett to the clutches of a foreign investor.

Of course, that could happen — but to suggest all it will take to lure Barrett offshore is more money sells him and the All Blacks short.

A player of Barrett's standing doesn't sell himself to the highest bidder.


There is more to evaluating a career than money, and in the past decade, there hasn't been an established All Blacks superstar who has decided to leave New Zealand
in their prime.

Dan Carter, Richie McCaw, Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith all gave their best years to the All Blacks.

All reached veteran status before they headed offshore or retired.

It's the same with Kieran Read and Ben Smith, Dane Coles, too, and probably Owen Franks, Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick will also lock themselves into contracts that keep them in New Zealand until the 2023 World Cup.

Dan Carter only left for Europe once he had established himself as a legend of the game. Photo / Photosport
Dan Carter only left for Europe once he had established himself as a legend of the game. Photo / Photosport

And it's a reasonable guess that Barrett will be looking to do the same because there is a realisation within the professional fraternity that there is no value that can be placed on test football.

Money can't buy the experience and at just 27, Barrett knows he can have his cake and eat it, so to speak.

He will be 32 come the 2023 World Cup — younger than Carter was at the 2015 tournament and potentially at the peak of his considerable powers.

Barrett has only touched the surface of his potential and by 2023 could have established himself as one of the greatest rugby players of all time.

Whatever any club is willing to offer him next year could be doubled, tripled or even quadrupled by 2023.

And he knows that because he's seen how that played out for Carter and Nonu, and he also knows that while he could earn considerably more by leaving, he's hardly making himself destitute by staying.

Best guess is that Barrett will be collecting close to $1 million a year in salary and probably a few hundred thousand a year in endorsements and that, combined with the almost invaluable feeling that comes with playing for the All Blacks, is a package that he won't be in any particular hurry to give up.