Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: Will off colour Barrett’s overseas deal work against him at the All Blacks?

Will off colour Barrett’s overseas deal work against him at the All Blacks?

Beauden Barrett signs autographs for fans

Beauden Barrett’s departure to Japan’s Top League provides him with a golden opportunity to take a well-earned break, but the 2015 World Cup winner may be doing his career more harm than good with so many questions still surrounding his role at national level.

Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

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The 29-year-old has accepted a deal with Suntory Sungoliath after activating a contractual clause allowing him to take up a short-term stint overseas. Despite being set to return to New Zealand shores as early as 2021, he could drop down the pecking order altogether in the lead up to France 2023.

If Richie Mo’unga wasn’t already the preeminent All Black flyhalf, he sure as hell is now. While it remains to be seen just how much Test footy will be played this year, the 26-year-old Crusaders pivot can rest assured his place in Ian Foster’s starting XV is secure after putting on a masterful display in his side’s 26-15 win over the Blues in Christchurch on the weekend.

Meanwhile, Beaudy’s persistent selection at fullback continues to come under intense scrutiny, with many questioning the decision considering the Blues man won two successive World Rugby Player of the Year titles operating at first five-eighth.

Barrett’s performance, or lack thereof in last Saturday’s Super Rugby Aotearoa blockbuster perhaps highlighted the need for the playmaker to be moved closer to the action. With the likes of Damian McKenzie, brother Jordie, David Havili and even the exciting Will Jordan all vying for the national fullback berth, Barrett’s time in Japan may prove costly.

Sure, he would have been in constant comms with the AB coaching staff, who would doubtless have planned in advance for his absence, but the fact remains that actions on the pitch speak loudest. And Barrett has been relatively quiet of late.

Steve Hansen was won over by the dual playmaker system by the end of his tenure, picking Mo’unga to start at flyhalf and Barrett at fullback against England in last year’s Rugby World Cup semi-final at the expense of Ben Smith.

Despite that devastating loss, Leon MacDonald’s team selections at the Blues this year indicate that the Big Kahunas down in Kiwiland now primarily view Barrett as a No 15 capable of filling-in at 10, rather than the reverse.

He may only be unavailable for one international season, but that could be enough time for Foster to settle on his preferred fullback. It wasn’t all that long ago that Barrett was typecast as a dreaded “impact player”, a term despised by many a sportsman. He may well find himself back in that position soon, especially with Test-level experience in two positions.

With a Super Rugby return imminent, Dan Carter has proven that opting for a sabbatical in the less demanding Top League can extend a player’s career and an increasing number of premier All Blacks seem to be paying attention, Barrett included. Trouble is, with so many talented players breathing down his neck, his starting spot at the ABs isn’t as clear-cut as it once was.

Beaudy’s a good enough fullback to start for virtually any other international side in the world, but New Zealand aren’t just any other side and his move could ultimately end up giving him the blues.

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