Captains shape up for schools knockout battle

GLENN MCLEAN
Last updated 05:00 30/05/2014

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Almost the entire Francis Douglas Memorial College first XV squad look up to captain Jordie Barrett.

It's not just his leadership or playing skills they recognise, it's the fact that the youngest Barrett boy of a famous Taranaki family has shot up to the point where most of his big brothers will be doing the same.

He will not be hard to spot at Yarrow Stadium tomorrow afternoon as he takes his usual position outside playmaker Eli Kneepkens in the annual interschool fixture against New Plymouth Boys' High School.

Blessed with what appear natural skills, Barrett also has the size now to provide some punishing runs over the advantage line.

It will be the second time he has faced the college's cross-town rivals but the first time he will lead the team on to the field against them.

"It's a pretty big honour, really," he said this week. "It's a big one, for sure, although we are treating it just like any other game. We're trying not to blow it up."

That could be easier said than done, with not only bragging rights up for grabs but a chance to advance in the national secondary schools knockout competition.

Barrett, 17, who has followed older brothers Kane, Beauden, Scott and Blake through the first XV, said the fact that there were no second chances in a match like this did make it special.

"You can't come come back next week and play it again. It's exciting because there are a few boys in the team who have not played at Yarrow [Stadium] and the build-up of the crowd and the Chiefs game after it should make it special."

As yet, there is no intention of following Beauden's path and slipping on the No 10 jersey, despite the fact he could probably adapt to it with ease.

Instead, he was enjoying the space second five-eighth afforded him and a bit of extra time to identify potential gaps in defence. Smaller, but fitter and faster has been a Francis Douglas catch phrase most seasons and Barrett said 2014 was no different.

"There are high expectations on us now and we know a lot of people are expecting big things."

Post this match, Barrett will take a break from rugby as he joins the Taranaki Wanderers Cricket Club's three-week tour of England.

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