Beauden Barrett will find a way through
OPINION: If Beauden Barrett keeps multiplying his excitement quota by the game, he might end up being our most attacking first five-eighth across 125 years of rugby.
Earle Kirton was no mean attacker and a strong admirer of "gas", the quality that makes Barrett what he is.
There is no better sight than him haring away from gas-fired wingers.
His ascent has been so rapid he is even leaving Aaron Cruden in his wake. Perhaps Cruden twigged that would happen when he signed for Montpellier and will rue the injury at Wellington last year that gave Barrett his break.
Cruden qualifies for the attacking first-five bracket as one who ghosts through gaps, while Barrett simply explodes. The Lions in June will try to manufacture a watertight defence to bottle him up – let's see if they can catch him.
Maybe the Lions will try to do an O'Driscoll on him, harking back to 2005 when Tana Umaga and Keven Mealamu double-tackled the Irish captain at Christchurch, lifting and dumping him. It put him out of the tour with a dislocated shoulder.
Brian O'Driscoll in his autobiography The Test wrote: "Wishing I could wipe it from the collective memory, so that when the Lions tour New Zealand in 2017, nobody will think of mentioning it".
Twelve years later, it would be a spear tackle and the players binned and banned.
Just imagine the parochial outrage if Barrett was the man so injured.
Meanwhile, the rise of his big lil brother Jordie has been astounding. Only three seasons back we saw him playing 1st XV rugby for Francis Douglas Memorial College against Palmerston North Boys' High School, when he was less rangy.
He looks an All Black right now and yet he is booked to play for the New Zealand under-20s at the world joust in Georgia.
Back to Beauden, who is the fastest first-five to wear the black jersey. My first live sight of him was when he put the hammer down against the Turbos at New Plymouth in 2012 and was gone.
Daniel Carter was brilliant in the 2005 series against the Lions and showed flashes after that, as well as being the superior goalkicker.
Beauden, though, can drop back to fullback when the game loosens up and from there he has even more space.
Ross Brown was another much-lauded Taranaki first-five, but talk about an opposite. His penchant was kicking in the days when the game was almost stationary, and more recently there have been Nicky Allen and Nick Evans.
Our most flamboyant No 10 was Carlos Spencer and the best stepper was Frano Botica. Before them, there was such talent as Manawatu's Bob Burgess and Wayne Smith.
Grant Fox was Mr Steadiness, but a runner he was not, scoring only one test try in 45 test starts. For a decade, he had the All Blacks' No 10 jersey to himself and no-one else got a look in.
Take Barrett. He has already scored 18 tries in 49 tests and has started only 19 of them.
Latest loose lingo lamentable
All sorts of buzzwords are infiltrating sports, not to mention everyday language.
Recently a TV rugby commentator came up with "the cleaners". No, he wasn't referring to medics with buckets and detergent.
He was speaking of the guys who clean out other guys in rucks.
Then there are "guard dogs" who stand at the sides of rucks to prevent marauders from harassing the protected species, halfbacks. So soon we will have cleaners taking out guard dogs.
A particularly dreadful new expression is "we took learnings from that". Translated: "We learnt from it".
Sam Whitelock even came up with this doozy – "yes we've just got to keep front-loading our energy". No one can give me an English translation.
Particularly loved by coach is "skillsets", which must be skills. Another favourite is "our exit strategy", which presumably means getting off your own line.
We also no longer have a team or players. We have "the group".
Super Rugby outfits were always called franchises. Now, they are "clubs", which is nuts, because now, in New Zealand players, graduate from clubs to provinces to clubs.
We also have "jackals", a term we should keep because it accurately describes players who turn the ball over – as in fetch it – after the tackle.
And after the two recent cyclones, we were told they were "weather events" and that residents were advised to "self evacuate", presumably meaning to "leave".
In rugby, players would self-evacuate if someone like Sonny Bank Williams was bearing down on them, to concoct an expression from gastroenterology.
Cyclone Cook was later described as ex-Cyclone Cook, which is like saying Captain Cook became ex-Captain Cook when he was killed in Hawaii in 1779.
The phrase "on point" is being used in sport when describing being on song. It seems to have been nicked from ballet's "en pointe" and should stay there.