Major teams: Hurricanes, Blues, Suntory Sungoliath
Country: New Zealand
Test span: 2012-
Test caps: 104 (68 starts)
Test points: 708 (40T, 164C, 58P, 2DG)
Rugby’s Greatest: Beauden Barrett
The embodiment of the perfect player: fast, skilful, daring, exhilarating. Beauden Barrett played bare-footed with his brothers until the age of ten – “It was awesome because you felt really quick” – and it’s as if he has transported those carefree days to the Test arena.
He’s not a player to die wondering and so much of what he tries comes off, from audacious kick-passes to reverse offloads and even one-handed pick-ups.
Quick enough to shame most international wingers, Barrett’s ability to see the space and exploit it with searing acceleration has ripped holes in all of the world’s best defences. And that works the other way, as we saw when he scored two interception tries against Wales on his 100th New Zealand appearance last year.
“He’s got that freakish ability to defend two spaces because he knows he’s got the speed to make up for it,” said All Blacks coach Ian Foster. “If you look at all his qualities, the ability to run fast and be decisive are probably his greatest.”
Speed of foot, speed of thought – it’s a deadly combination. And quite apart from the avalanche of Test tries this twice World Rugby Player of the Year has created for others, Barrett has scored 40 of his own. The most recent of those came in the lost series against Ireland in July 2022.
It’s ten years since the Taranaki-born Barrett made his Test debut in a 60-0 rout of Ireland. International rugby must have seemed easy as he was on the winning side in his first 19 Tests. In 2017 against Samoa he won his 50th cap alongside brothers Jordie and Scott, the first time New Zealand had had three siblings in a match-day squad.
He’s now in his 30s and facing stiffer competition for the fabled black shirt. Yet talent like his will never be subdued. “I’ve got plenty left in the tank,” he says.
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