Today we begin a series in which we discover some Taranaki personalities' favourite places.
Beauden Barrett makes no secret of just how much he enjoys coming home to Oakura and catching up with his mates.
With the rugby season stretching from February to December, being part of an All Blacks squad is demanding, no matter how great it appears from the outside looking in.
That's why Barrett enjoys those few weeks before he is needed in Wellington for pre-season training.
Judging by the bright new All Blacks kit a couple of his mates came down to Oakura Beach to meet him in, his friends obviously enjoy his return, too.
"During the end of year tour, that's when it gets really tough mentally," Barrett said.
Having bought a house in the seaside village more than a year ago, Barrett does not sit at home hiding away. Those few weeks are gold to him as he reflects on what has been a quite unbelievable 2013.
Eleven test appearances through the year and he's yet to taste defeat. In fact, the utility back has now racked up 16 test caps without losing.
What has made the year sweeter was the way he has contributed, especially off the bench, when he was sublime at times, including a masterful display in the All Blacks epic 38-27 win over arch rival South Africa at Ellis Park, arguably the toughest stadium in the world for opposition sides to win.
There was also the last minute try against France which lifted thousands off their seats at Yarrow Stadium. He played another important cameo when the All Blacks were staring defeat in the eye in Ireland. The list goes on.
"To win every game in a calendar year, that's pretty special and that's why it's so great to be part of the All Blacks," he said.
Barrett was proud of his work in the jersey and the way he managed to stay positive when the starts were not coming.
The year was also punctuated by a decision he had to make to either stay with the Hurricanes or shift north to accept a lucrative offer with the Blues. His choice was not one he regrets.
"I'm fully committed to the Hurricanes and really excited about next year," he said.
As for Taranaki's decision to switch to the Chiefs. It's one he accepts. "I can understand it but to be honest, I don't know a lot about it. Obviously it's a decision the Taranaki Rugby board would not do if it was not the right one for the province. My loyalty is with Taranaki and it will be for the rest of my life, that won't change. It doesn't mean I can't play for another franchise."
The Taranaki Sportsperson of the Year does have a couple of regrets about 2013, though.
"I was a bit disappointed I couldn't pull the Coastal jersey on, it's been two years now. The odd Taranaki game would be awesome, too, but you can't fit it in these days."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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