21 May 2024

Rugby: Shock return for Beauden Barrett? Blues not ruling it out

4:27 pm on 21 May 2024
Beauden Barrett before the Highlanders v Blues Super Rugby Pacific, Dunedin, Sunday 26th March 2022

Beauden Barrett before the Highlanders v Blues Super Rugby Pacific, Dunedin, Sunday 26th March 2022 Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Beauden Barrett is back with the Blues, at least on the training field, anyway.

The 123-test All Black has returned to Auckland from Tokyo, where he has spent the Japanese domestic season playing for Toyota Verblitz.

The side was eliminated from finals contention after a nine-win, seven-loss campaign, meaning it missed the Japan Rugby League One semi-finals.

Barrett trained with the Blues at their Alexandra Park base today, and the team confirmed this afternoon that they are "seeking clarification around the application process for including Barrett at the Blues for the remainder of this season".

A disappointed Beauden Barrett of the Blues after the Super Rugby Pacific Rugby Semi Final match, Crusaders Vs Blues, at Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch, New Zealand, 16th June 2023. Copyright photo: John Davidson / www.photosport.nz

Photo: www.photosport.nz / John Davidson

While it would be a slightly unprecedented move for a player who has been granted a sabbatical to be rushed back into Super Rugby, there are certainly logical reasons for the Blues to do so.

Stephen Perofeta has been injured for most of the season and was a late scratching for their game against the Highlanders on Saturday night, while Zarn Sullivan suffered a serious knee injury in the Blues' win over the Hurricanes.

While Cole Forbes has been in great form after coming in as part of the wider training squad, there is space in Vern Cotter's very versatile Blues backline. Harry Plummer has been very good as well and can play second five if needed, so a reshuffle to accommodate Barrett at either first five or fullback is not particularly difficult to envisage.

It would also preclude the need for Barrett to have to play any first-class fixtures after Super Rugby Pacific's conclusion, allowing him to slot straight back into the All Black squad when he is presumably picked by incoming coach Scott Robertson.

The Blues are currently top of the Super Rugby Pacific table and face the cellar-dwelling Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday night.