Barrett's stellar year - and it all began right here
It's time to celebrate Taranaki's newsmakers with the annual Taranaki Daily News Person of the Year Award. Hannah Fleming has sat down with five worthy newsmakers from throughout the year. They will be profiled over the coming days with the winner announced on New Year's Day. Today she looks back on the year with the 2011 award winner, Beauden Barrett.
Beauden Barrett knows exactly how fast things can happen.
Although how they come about is beyond the 21-year-old Pungarehu lad.
"It's hard to explain. You don't think about it too much but before you know it, you're there."
By "there" he means the All Blacks squad, where he ended up in June for the test series against Ireland.
At the beginning of the year, all he hoped for was a full season with the Hurricanes.
"I certainly didn't expect to be where I am now so it's been a pretty surreal year."
Barrett now has test caps against Argentina, Scotland, Italy and Wales under his belt, and he has won praise for his maturity on and off the field. That youthful wisdom was a factor in settling on Barrett as the Taranaki Daily News 2011 Person of the Year.
The accolade earned him a fair bit of ribbing from his mates, but it was an award the young first-five says gave him a lot of confidence both as a rugby player and an individual.
"For a young person to be nominated, I was stoked, and to actually get the award was such an honour because there's so many good people around in Taranaki.
"It is the highest non-rugby award that I've won and to get it was pretty special."
Throughout the year Barrett says he often looked around and wondered "what the hell am I doing here?".
"Just looking at these stars, guys you used to look up to - and still do look up to - to be in their team and in the same environment is pretty cool."
He initially found it difficult to get his head around running alongside the likes of Richie McCaw and Dan Carter.
"Thinking of them as a player and a team mate, rather than your idol, was a bit strange."
And he found dishing out orders even harder.
"Being a first-five you kind of have to run the show and to call the shots takes a bit of courage, I suppose."
As one would imagine, being an All Black comes with its responsibilities.
"We do have expectations on ourselves and I suppose the public require things of us too so we have to be responsible and all that.
"But there's a great balance in the team and it's a lot of fun. It's a great environment, you just can't get enough of it."
His debut against Ireland in June was the highlight of the year for Barrett, however, each game he played was special.
"Every time you get the chance to wear that black jersey is a highlight in itself," he says.
With a big Super 15 season ahead and a goal to retain his spot in black, Barrett says he plans to make the most of the summer.
And he had a small piece of advice for the winner of 2012's Taranaki Daily News Person of the Year.
"Definitely don't change as a person. Obviously if you get an award like that it must mean you're a good bugger - you're doing something well."
2008 - Ben Hekenui
2009 - George Fuller
2010 - Nigel Ogle
2011 - Beauden Barrett
Taranaki Daily News