Will he be the Blues' saviour?

It seems to be a yearly question surrounding the Auckland Super Rugby franchise as year after year they fail to meet the high expectations thrust upon them.

Now, after nine seasons with the Hurricanes, Beauden Barrett will be the next man to take on the challenge of lifting the Blues out of the cellar.

The 28-year-old first five-eighth has championship credentials; with Rugby World Cup and Super Rugby title to his credit, and has twice been named World Rugby Player of the Year. A signature chased by many teams both in New Zealand and abroad, joining the Blues will make him arguably the most scrutinised rugby player in the country when he makes his debut midway through the 2020 season.

The Hurricanes won the Super Rugby title in 2019. Photo / Getty Images
The Hurricanes won the Super Rugby title in 2019. Photo / Getty Images

"I see a lot of potential [at the Blues]," Barrett said. "They've had some close losses ... and if you can find a way to turn that around ... I believe they know how to do that.

"They're a team on the rise, I like the way they play and I'm really looking forward to being a part of that."

Barrett confirmed on Friday he explored some offers from clubs overseas but ultimately decided he wasn't ready to leave New Zealand.

"At the start of the year, I had a look around. I would be silly not to see what's out there. I just knew deep down I wasn't ready to go, and that I had a lot more to offer, so I soon shut down that option," Barrett said.

"I've been around for a while now and I want to share my experience with them. I know how to influence the players around me. I've spoken to [Blues coach] Leon [MacDonald] about where he wants this team to go."

It's a safe bet that direction is upwards, after the Blues have failed year after year to challenge for the title. The side took some important steps in 2019, but showed they've still got a fair way to go before they are in position to challenge for the crown again.

Their last Super Rugby title came in 2003 when Carlos Spencer was steering the ship in the No 10 jersey, with Doug Howlett and Joe Rokococo on the wings, Mils Muliaina at fullback, and the likes of Xavier Rush, Matua Parkinson, Keven Mealamu and Ali Williams among the deep forward stocks.

Beauden Barrett was among Super Rugby's leading scorers this season. Photo / Getty Images
Beauden Barrett was among Super Rugby's leading scorers this season. Photo / Getty Images

Since then they've seen more than 30 players don the No 10 jersey, but only made two further trips to the playoffs. Since the Super Rugby conference system began in 2011, they've been the bottom New Zealand team seven times.


The Blues have been looking for someone to lift them out of the gutter for years. Big name players like Sonny Bill Williams, Ma'a Nonu, and Piri Weepu have all tried their hand at being the ones to bring the franchise back to its former glory to no avail.

Will Barrett be the one the Blues have been waiting for?

His style of play and willingness to take control in the No 10 jersey will be welcomed with open arms by a Blues team who have been looking for someone who can make things happen on attack and take at least some of the pressure off young winger Rieko Ioane. In 2019, Ioane scored nine tries for the club; their first five-eighths Harry Plummer (5) and Otere Black (3) combined for just eight assists. Barrett had 20.

In the past three seasons, the former Hurricane has assisted on 62 tries, scored 13 of his own and kicked 78 per cent of his attempts on goal. They're attractive stats, and anyone who has watched Barrett play knows what he's capable of. But whether or not he'll be the one to lift the club from obscurity, Blues fans have seen enough hardship to know they can't jump to that conclusion straight away.