Rugby: Barrett's ABs call-up bad news for Taranaki

Beauden Barrett.
Beauden Barrett.
The All Blacks are likely to cope just fine without Dan Carter, but the prognosis isn't as cheery for Taranaki, who as a result have lost Beauden Barrett on the eve of their Ranfurly Shield defence against Hawkes Bay.

Carter's calf strain has resulted in Barrett, the country's third-ranked first-five, being whisked from Taranaki's clutches and on to the All Blacks' reserves bench for Saturday's test against Argentina in Wellington.

Barrett, a 21-year-old who has trained with the All Blacks all week, will back up starting No10 Aaron Cruden.

While Carter's injury has set in motion a chain of events which has left Taranaki supporters feeling short-changed, the Amber and Blacks are putting on a brave face, with coaches Colin Cooper and Leo Crowley suspecting something was up when told from on high that their best player wouldn't be back until later in the week at the earliest.

"What normally happens is that he [Barrett] comes home on a Tuesday [from the All Blacks] and this week we got told he wouldn't be home before Thursday night so we knew he might be getting pretty close [to making the team]," Crowley said.

The fact that first-five James Marshall, a new signing from Tasman, had trained in the role all week meant disruption would be minimal, he said.

"We're quite happy to have that calibre of player [Marshall] and Jack Cameron on the sideline has played 54 games.

"Beaudy's kicking for goals has been awesome so we just hope James and Kurt Baker and Jack Cameron can carry on that success rate. It's Ranfurly Shield rugby, you try to spend time in the opposition's half and if you get penalty shots at goal you have to take them."

Barrett, who has played one test, scored 29 points - including a try in the final minutes - in Taranaki's topsy-turvy 49-40 Shield defence against Tasman in New Plymouth last week.

"Beaudy brings certain things for sure. He takes it to the line and keeps the opposition under pressure. We'll miss that but that's probably James' game as well."

The TAB, for one, believe Barrett's withdrawal to be significant - the odds of a Hawkes Bay victory firming from $4.20 to $3 after the Carter news broke today.


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