Don't let the bright lights blind you, Barrett

TOBY ROBSON
Last updated 05:00 25/07/2013
Beauden Barrett
Photosport
STAYING PUT: Beauden Barrett has re-signed with the Hurricanes.

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OPINION: Beauden Barrett would be remiss not to hear Sir John Kirwan out but if he does look past Auckland's bright lights the Hurricanes pivot will find solid grounds to stay put.

The Taranaki talent is the key piece to the Hurricanes puzzle if the franchise are to go from pretenders to contenders.

He is understood to have been wooed by the quality of coaching on offer at the Blues rather than money or illusions of grandeur.

It's the package of head Blues coach Kirwan, defence specialist Graham Henry and kicking guru Mick Byrne that piqued the first five-eighth's interest.

Barrett is laid back but ambitious, level-headed and calm, but expansive in his outlook on the way rugby should be played.

He wants to take his game to a new level and after three years of mid-table finishes has decided to weigh his Super Rugby options. Fair enough.

But just how convincing is the Blues sales pitch?

Byrne is a man who could fine-tune Barrett's tactical boot, provide a new lens with which to look at and manipulate space, and maybe add a few yards to his punt.

Kirwan could inspire and push, while Henry's wise counsel could clarify and crystalise his approach to the game.

To play in front of people rather than plastic yellow seats may also hold some appeal along with the presence of brother Kane.

But is Auckland the promised land? If it were the Crusaders or Chiefs it would be a different debate.

The truth is the Blues don't appear to offer anything that leaps out as being obviously better than what Barrett already has.

Will Kirwan's roster be a better side than the Hurricanes in 2014?

Some red flags quickly surface.

Up front, Kirwan has severely limited options at lock after the departures of Ali Williams and Anthony Boric.

There is a lack of depth out wide where Rene Ranger's departure will leave a gaping hole at centre.

A potential backline of Piri Weepu, Barrett, Francis Saili, Jackson Willison, George Moala, Frank Halai and Charles Piutau is good.

But is it better than TJ Perenara, Barrett, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Julian Savea, Alapati Leiua and Cory Jane?

At this stage the Blues pack will contain three confirmed All Blacks - Charlie Faumuina, Keven Mealamu and Steven Luatua.

The Hurricanes forwards will have four - Ben Franks, Dane Coles, Jeremy Thrush and Victor Vito - Brad Shields and Ardie Savea knocking on the door.

Barrett might also look at results. It's true the Hurricanes lost five straight but the feel-good factor around Kirwan's first year as coach must be accompanied by a large asterisk after his side finished with a six-game skid.

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Yes, the Blues beat the Hurricanes twice but their respective results were the same with six wins and 10 losses. Two bonus points were all that separated the rivals when the dust settled.

The truth is that over the past five years the Blues record is worse than the Hurricanes.

Both sides reached the playoffs once but since the semifinals in 2009 the Hurricanes won 37 matches to the Blues' 32.

The time has come for the 22-year-old to stamp his mark by guiding the Hurricanes to the playoffs in 2014, not starting another long-term project at the Blues.

- The Dominion Post

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