Barrett happy to trade chainsaw for tracksuit
For new Blues recruit Kane Barrett the time has come to put down his chainsaw and concentrate on living his ambition of being a professional rugby player.
The older brother of All Blacks first-five Beauden, Kane was yesterday named as one of the 16 new faces in next year's squad.
The Taranaki loose forward had a breakthrough season for his province this year, so much so that the former New Zealand Secondary Schools captain was rewarded with a Super Rugby contract and it means that he'll have to put his other career on hold.
"I was self-employed in firewood, so I would hang out in the woods with a chainsaw," said a smiling Barrett at the Blues' big launch at Eden Park yesterday, which was attended by more than 700 people.
While Barrett's deal with the Blues was agreed a while ago, he made the conscious decision not to think about it until the NPC had finished. But he can now prepare for the biggest jump in his career.
"Coming up here and meeting the boys has built excitement," he said.
"There is another month to go yet, so I'll go back home, get everything sorted and then look forward to moving up here and getting into the training.
"Being in a fulltime environment is pretty exciting and not having to go to work will be good and I'll be able to put all of my effort into the training."
The Blues' squad, which includes Southland outside back Marty McKenzie, has just 11 players who were with the franchise at the beginning of this year.
The biggest casualty is Daniel Braid. The former All Blacks flanker played his 100th game for Auckland last weekend but his time in New Zealand could be coming to an end as he failed to pick up a contract with any team.
Blues coach Sir John Kirwan said it was a tough call to cut someone who'd been such a key player in the team for many years.
"It's a hard one, but it's just time to move on," said Kirwan.
"I've got a meeting with him tomorrow, he might pop up in another area, but I don't know yet."
The biggest surprise at yesterday's announcement was the signing of former Chiefs and Highlanders lock Culum Retallick.
He and Counties Manukau's Ronald Raaymakers are the two new second rowers in the squad.
With Ali Williams at a stage where it's a constant struggle to stay healthy and Anthony Boric not playing yet after having vertebrae in his neck fused together, Kirwan decided he needed plenty of cover.
"Culum is an interesting selection," said Kirwan. "He's very good at what he does and is a late maturer, but he's ready to have a crack and we think he'll be really good.
"We have taken five locks just because of our problem with Anthony Boric.
"We wanted to cover him and Ali Williams, who are older athletes."
Backs: Outside backs: Frank Halai, Waisake Naholo, Charles Piutau, Rene Ranger, Marty McKenzie. Centres: Malakai Fekitoa, George Moala, Francis Saili, Jackson Willison. First-fives: Baden Kerr, Chris Noakes. Halfbacks: Bryn Hall, Piri Weepu, Jamison Gibson-Park.
Forwards: Flankers: Kane Barrett, Luke Braid, Steven Luatua, Brendon O'Connor, Ronald Raaymakers, Peter Saili. Locks: Anthony Boric, Liaki Moli, Culum Retallick, Ali Williams. Props: Charlie Faumuina, Tom McCartney, Tim Perry, Angus Ta'avao, Ofa Tu'ungafasi. Hookers: Keven Mealamu, Quentin MacDonald, James Parsons.