Ex Crusader Barrell now paid to enforce law

CHRIS BARCLAY
Last updated 05:00 31/05/2014
Con Barrell
CHRIS BARCLAY/Fairfax NZ
BLUE LINE: Con and Kate Barrell offer each other support after a hard day’s work with the Queensland police.

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Convinced an assault had been committed, Con Barrell created a footnote in Super Rugby history by pursuing Charlie Riechelmann over the sideline at Lancaster Park to dispense summary justice.

But, as the Crusaders prop was to discover the following week, the Sanzar judiciary considered him a guilty party when a brawl broke out during the Blues 49-18 win in March, 1996.

"I'd seen some rubbish go on and I chased Charlie Riechelmann and got charged for taking the law into my own hands.

"It ended up [costing] about five grand and two weeks' suspension."

Barrell was cautious when asked what punishment was meted out to a future All Black team-mate on the next year's tour of the UK and Ireland.

"The camera," he paused, "never showed [what happened]."

Television footage is indeed inconclusive once a St John Ambulance officer takes evasive action, though it did show Mark Weedon punching Riechelmann on the field.

The Aucklander retaliated, dropping Weedon to his knees with a sucker punch, and then Barrell joined the fray - as Waisake Sotutu cleared off to score.

"I was the first-up before the judiciary," Barrell said, because the offenders fronted in alphabetical order.

"I was the first in the second year as well, not a good record is it?"

Not exactly, yet it didn't affect the now 47-year-old's employment prospects once he relocated from Christchurch to the Gold Coast in early 2010 - for the last 18 months he has been railing against injustice in a more politically correct manner.

Barrell graduated from the Queensland Police Academy last year, 12 months after his wife, Kate, also made constable.

The couple moved to Australia before son, Cleve, started secondary school and had no intention of joining the growing number of Kiwis in the Queensland police until they met an ex-pat stationed in their area.

Kate joined first and while she spent seven months living at the academy in Brisbane, Barrell also opted for a move from the front-row to the frontline.

Before leaving Christchurch, the Northland, Canterbury, Crusaders and Nelson Bays prop/hooker applied to coach the first XV at the Southport School but needed to be a qualified teacher.

But Barrell, who played 44 games for the Crusaders from 1996 to 2001, soon found his reputation preceded him.

"The day after we arrived I got a call from the head coach to come down and help out with the forward play," said Barrell, who is no longer involved because Cleve is in the first XV squad as a halfback and he didn't want to be accused of influencing selections.

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Originally from the back blocks outside Whangarei, Barrell defied asthma throughout his playing career and although he kept in shape after retirement he still reckoned he was "too old and broken down" for the police force.

However, it was the rules and regulations that taxed the farmboy who already had a gauge on shooting thanks to pig hunting as a youth.

"For me the theory is the hard part. There's so much to learn with legislation, the computer systems . . . it's quite daunting so Kate's been really helpful because she's been through it," he said.

Still, the former Nelson Bays team masseuse took time to get to grips with carrying a firearm.

"It was quite weird coming from New Zealand. It was quite intimidating carrying a gun," she said, relieved it has never been discharged outside the range.

"Three years later I've never needed to use my [pepper] spray or my Taser."

Neither has her husband stared down the barrell on the streets of Surfers Paradise, though their workmates have not been as fortunate.

"One of our colleagues was shot earlier this year. There are some really serious injuries and close calls," said Kate, who works alongside former Bay of Plenty wing Sam Hala and All Black Leon MacDonald's cousin Bruce.

Con is also on the staff at the Southport station though the couple never patrol together because, despite their professionalism, they may not react by the book if their loved one is threatened or abused.

Naturally, they both keep an ear on the radio when the other is out on the beat, but insist they do not get overly anxious.

"Once you're in that blue uniform you listen for everyone's partner out there," explained Con, before Kate added one [perk] of sharing the same job was understanding the stresses involved.

"You might go to something particularly nasty and you can't sleep for a few nights. You've got the flashbacks and certain smells will set you off," she said.

"Coming home and being able to say, ‘Hey, I've had this today' . . . he knows what's happening . . . .he gets it."

"It's interesting," admits Con.

"You'll talk to someone you work with and ask: ‘Do you go home and chat to your [non-police] partner?' and it's ‘the first time we did it, but no'.

"It's counselling in a manner isn't it? You talk about what you went through if it's something traumatic."

- Stuff

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