Carter return overshadowed by Barrett fever

GLENN MCLEAN
Last updated 05:01 19/06/2013
Beauden Barrett
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ
HOMETOWN HERO: Beauden Barrett may not be the star of the All Blacks, but he is the most popular man in New Plymouth this week.

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As the rest of the country gets set to welcome Dan Carter back into the fold, a province holds its breath, waiting to see if its favourite son will be included in Saturday's test against France.

It has been a long wait for a Taranaki representative back to become a regular in an All Blacks squad.

In fact, it was the year Beauden Barrett was born when Kieran Crowley last ran out in an All Blacks jersey on a fateful day in Dublin at the 1991 Rugby World Cup.

Sentiment might count for little, however, when Steve Hansen and his fellow selectors scribble out their playing 23 to face France, especially with Carter's likely return and the form of Aaron Cruden in Christchurch.

Barrett's saving grace could be a temptation to give Cruden some down time after a hectic playing schedule for the Chiefs.

''The team is not named until Thursday but it would be a dream come true,'' Barrett said yesterday.

If he does get the nod, the Hurricanes pivot will not get to share the dream with his parents - Kevin and Robyn - who are in France watching No 3 son Scott pack the second row of the New Zealand under-20 scrum.

Nevertheless, Barrett was confident they would ''have plenty of time'' to see him perform in the black jersey in the future.

His immediate focus was on the All Blacks completing a clean sweep of the tourists who have avoided a prolonged stay in Barrett's home province by opting to stay in Auckland until Friday.

Instead of harbouring any selfishness, Barrett was welcoming Carter's return and the competition he provided.

''It keeps us honest and it's what we want in this environment.''

There will be no surfing lessons for his team-mates around the Taranaki coast on the All Blacks day off today, with Barrett admitting he did not possess the required skill set for standing on a wave.

''I body board [because] I can't surf, I'm too stiff,'' he said.

As for Taranaki's second favourite son, Barrett was also hoping he would get the chance to play alongside fellow Francis Douglas College old boy Conrad Smith at Yarrow Stadium, something that looks more likely after Ben Smith was not asked to run at centre during yesterday's training.

''As much as New Plymouth wants it, you can't do much about it. You have to put a team out there and it is the New Zealand All Blacks and the selectors will want to pick the best team to do a job.

''The main thing is we go out there and finish the job at the weekend and wrap the series up.'' 

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- Taranaki Daily News

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