All Blacks star Beauden Barrett has shed light on what led to his blockbuster move to the Blues ahead of the 2020 Super Rugby season.
Barrett, a dual World Rugby Player of the Year, spent the first nine years of his Super Rugby career with the Hurricanes after making his debut in 2011.
He helped guide the franchise to its maiden Super Rugby title in 2016. But, he elected for change by joining the Auckland-based franchise prior to last year's competition, as part of a four-year deal with New Zealand Rugby.
At the time, Barrett says his decision to move north to the Blues came down to what was best for his young family.
Speaking on former teammate James Marshall's podcast What A Lad, the now 30-year-old revealed how difficult the decision was, which he initially brought up with Marshall when they were rooming together while on tour in Johannesburg one year.
"To leave a club where you've played 120 games, things like your father's played for the club, your brother's playing for the club, a team that you've looked up to and adored all your life, watching the greats play – Cully, Tana, and so on – but probably more the teammates, those bonds and connections and friendships you've made and you enjoy, [they're a] big reason you play footy. That was probably the hardest thing," Barrett said.
"I was becoming a little bit bored of the same same, of the same environment.
"It just got a little bit repetitive to me and I needed some sort of change or stimulation if I wanted to stay in New Zealand and play for the All Blacks and not go off-shore for good and play footy."
Part of his new contract saw Barrett spend time in Japan with Suntory Sungoliath for the 2021 Top League competition. He is back in New Zealand now ahead of the international season where he's set to make his return to the New Zealand game with the All Blacks.
Barrett says there were also plenty of off-field factors behind his shift north.
"It was also a personal family decision. We thought, look, we're going to end up living Auckland at some stage, Wellington isn't home. I'm a Naki boy. My wife and I met in 2013, she was studying [in Wellington]. So we had a good stint down there together and we felt it was time.
"I wanted to make a shift to Auckland while still playing and make that transition while playing because I wanted to challenge myself in a different environment, stimulate myself to ultimately become a better All Black and a better play for New Zealand. Because once again, I didn't want to go overseas at that stage. And it's obviously Hannah's home, it was always going to be our future home, so that was a big deciding factor.
"I love living in Auckland. It's great having Hannah's family support around, family and friends around. It has so much to offer as well. And I get my barbecue out five nights a week instead of once a year. So there were so many different factors but it came down to, ultimately, a quality of life [decision], like am I living the best life I can? Because yes, rugby's important, but I can still play rugby and have the best life we can have as a family in Auckland so I thought it just ticked so many boxes."