Beauden Barrett was a lot better than the statistics suggest in the latest round of Super Rugby played last night, despite his side losing a nail-biter to the Chiefs.
A lot was made about the big clash of the first-fives ahead of the Hurricanes-Chiefs clash, but the picture of what Steve Hansen’s possible All Black halves combination isn’t clear from the result last night.
It is clearly going to be a race between the Chiefs’ Aaron Cruden and the Hurricanes’ Beauden Barrett, and you’d think that when the two collided in Wellington on Saturday night, fans would have walked away with some idea or confidence in who to pick for the All Blacks series against Wales. This is not the case, it is still very much an un-answered question.
Beauden Barrett was on the losing side of the draw this time round, but only just. Perhaps if he might have kicked at a level we have come to know and expect from him [only 33%] the result would be reading differently for the Hurricanes today. In many ways, it was Barrett’s most impressive showing of the season, just not with the boot.
Barrett showed that he can command the troops around the field, execute set plays, and step his way through the line with snipping carries with ball in hand. None of this can be questioned in his performance on Saturday night. He is definitely not to be underestimated.
Barrett’s issue against the Chiefs were in his performance off the kicking tee, missing all bar one of his attempts on goal and as well as punting over the dead ball line, resulting in lost possession for the Hurricanes. A poor return but Barrett’s try in the final period of the match shows that he can be ‘deadly with ball in hand’ sucking in three defenders and then keeping himself in support for a clear run to the line. A delight to watch.
In the final attacking play of the game, it was Barrett who saw space and created an unmarked situation for Jason Woodward in support. If only Woodward had have caught the pass, Barrett would have been responsible for setting up the match-winning play. Unfortunately, the result stands: 27-28
Barrett has proven time and time again that he is an asset for any team he represents; be it the Hurricanes or the All Blacks, Beauden is one worth having on the roster and usually makes an impact in the big moments that matter. Think about the clash against the Springboks in Johannesburg back in 2013, or the Rugby World Cup Final of 2015. This is a 24-year old that shows up and turns games around when it matters. But the critics are right, Barrett is not yet the full package.
Heading into the match against the Chiefs last night, a lot had been said about Barrett’s inability to be that ‘full package’ as a test first-five. The kicking element certainly needs work for the Hurricane number ten to be a certain All Black starter, but lets not forget one thing here–at least Barrett is taking kicks at goal, unlike his opposite.
“Main photo credit”