Beauden Barrett narrowly misses out on top spot in our list of the Top 100 Players In The World

The 100 Best Rugby Players In The World: 2 Beauden Barrett

2 Beauden Barrett

Age 28 (27.5.91) Position Fly-half

Save for the occasional reminder of his game-breaking genius, Barrett has not been at his imperious best of late. You wouldn’t say his aura is slipping – as soon as the words were out of your mouth, he’d be liable to produce an awesome display – but he’s been finding it harder to impose himself on defences that usually bend to his will.

Yet he earned his deserved reputation as one of the greatest tens of all time on the back of freakish moments when he conjured something out of nothing – and he hasn’t lost that knack. For his extraordinary speed, his hands and kicking wizardry, and his ability to run a back-line, he is still unsurpassed.

Like Lightning: Barrett playing for the Wellington Hurricanes (Getty Images)

Ex-All Blacks fly-half Nick Evans has watched Barrett’s progress with interest and highlights his rugby intelligence. He says: “When the game opens up, he has that priceless ability to manipulate defenders. If you watch him, he loiters in the backfield waiting for those unstructured attacks.

“He’s smart too. He will kick the ball back but once there’s a poor kick return, he’ll use his speed to ghost in and out of the line.”

Would it be a surprise if he inspired New Zealand to a third straight World Cup in the autumn? No. That’s what wondrous players can do. Barrett is only 28 and has many fine years ahead of him. There’s uncertainty about what he does after Japan – home comforts or wanderlust? Wherever he ends up, we’ll be fascinated by him.

Cup Leader?: Will Barrett lead NZ to World Cup glory in Japan (Getty Images)

Barrett has more of an understated confidence than any hint of arrogance. Press him about his standing within the game and he is modest, saying: “It’s a privilege to be talked about as one of the world’s best players, but personally I don’t really want to be put on a pedestal because ultimately it’s a team sport. I’m only as good as the ball the forwards give me and the service I get from my scrummie. Then it’s down to the options I’m getting from the backs outside me.”

As for career ambitions, Barrett admits an obsession to be the best will lead to him scrutinising his own game. “When you sit back and set yourself goals, you want to be the best player you can be in your position and, quite often, what stems from that is being coveted as the best in the world. I would say there’s always room for improvement. I’m never satisfied with what I’ve done.”

Will he go on to usurp Carter as the greatest All Blacks No 10? Only time will tell, but the fun will be in the watching…

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