Barrett has the backing of home town crowd

Last updated 17:00 18/06/2013
Beauden Barrett
LOCAL LADS: Beauden Barrett and Conrad Smith, both from Taranaki, celebrate Barrett's try against France.

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Fortunately the milk premium is healthy for dairy farmers at present - the Barrett family is clocking up some serious air points. 

But even with his parents abroad, Beauden Barrett won't lack for support this week.

Barrett's parents are currently in France, supporting younger brother Scott who has been named to start at lock in the New Zealand under-20s World Cup semi-final against England tomorrow morning.

"Mum and Dad are away so they won't be here to watch this weekend," Barrett said after training in New Plymouth today. "They followed me over to Italy when I played in that team and there are still a couple of boys [five in total] to come so the bank account might be taking a wee hit with all the travel they are doing."

Splashed across the front and back of local paper the Taranaki Daily News, it's fair to say Barrett - the second eldest of eight siblings - is a prized asset of the proud farming and surfing region, where rugby is embedded in the culture.

"Maybe it's Conrad's day tomorrow," the 22-year-old joked of fellow 'Naki product Conrad Smith.

Locals are keen to see their talented first five-eighth get a start after he sparked and finished a memorable counter attacking try in Christchurch last week but, with playmaker Dan Carter expected to return, they may have to settle with another cameo from the bench.

This rare opportunity to watch one of their favourite sons only enhances the public's expectations. No pressure, Steve.

"The public are hoping but we'll find out on Thursday," he said. "It's great to be back. It's a dream come true to be here with the All Blacks. Just to play on Yarrows Stadium for Taranaki was a dream for me but if I get the chance for the All Blacks it will be amazing."

Along with his Hurricanes captain Smith, Barrett is a product of New Plymouth's Francis Douglas College. One would suspect, then, after graduating to the 'Naki NPC side, Barrett would have intimate knowledge of the wind direction and slops of Yarrows Stadium. But in the age of professionalism, Barrett plays the majority of his rugby for the Hurricanes and All Blacks.

"I've probably played more at the Cake Tin in Wellington but it's pretty familiar for me," he said.

Barrett's earliest memories of Yarrows aren't flash. For a local lad they are horrible in fact. Before former All Blacks prop Mark Allen's reputation saw the venue nicknamed the "Bull Ring", Barrett recalls watching his father - Kevin "Smiley" Barrett who played 167 matches for the province - in one gut-wrenching loss.   

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"When Waikato took the [Ranfurly] Shield off us in 1996," he said. "Fosey [All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster] was playing. I'm still scared from those cow bells. It wasn't an enjoyable day. I'm still upset by that."

Three years ago Barrett was just a fan of the All Blacks. He sat in the stands like any other punter. Much has changed since. He's now New Zealand's third-choice No 10 and the youngest of that brigade. Saturday night could be another step is his fleeting, but exceptionally promising, career.

"Growing up here watching Ireland and Samoa play against the All Blacks it was pretty special," he said. "If I get the chance to run out at the weekend it'll be even more special."

- Stuff


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