Barrett 'moving to Auckland' after World Cup

Beauden Barrett began playing for the Hurricanes in 2011. Photo: Getty Images
Beauden Barrett began playing for the Hurricanes in 2011. Photo: Getty Images

Beauden Barrett hasn't yet committed to the Blues, but the world's best play-maker has said yes to living in Auckland and will be relocating after the Rugby World Cup.

The New Zealand Herald understands that Barrett and his wife, Hannah, are upping sticks from the capital later this year to base themselves in Auckland, which is why the Blues are hopeful they are going to lure the All Blacks No 10 from the Hurricanes.

Barrett, whose father played for the Hurricanes, has been fiercely loyal to the club he first played for in 2011.

But as much as the Hurricanes are in his blood, Barrett will have to commit to commuting between Auckland and Wellington if he is to continue to play for them beyond his current contract which expires at the end of this Super Rugby campaign.

Complicating the picture is that Barrett is understood to be planning to take both a non-playing and playing sabbatical as part of a four-year contract extension to stay in New Zealand.

It is probable that he will be granted permission to take an extended break from all rugby after the World Cup and miss much of next year's Super Rugby season.

He's expected to play in the latter weeks of the competition and be available for the July tests and Rugby Championship before then joining a Japanese club at the end of the year, where he will be based until May 2021.

It is, in essence, a similar deal to the one Brodie Retallick has been granted in that, like the big Chiefs lock, Barrett is being afforded an 18-month window in which to enjoy a combination of time off and a lucrative spell in Japan before fully committing to New Zealand in May 2021.

And like Retallick, Barrett is effectively going to miss the next two Super Rugby competitions, which further complicates the question of which club he'll play for.

If he does decide to join the Blues, it may be that he delays his arrival until the 2022 season.

To join them for a handful - if that - of games next year and then disappear to Japan in 2021 before returning again in 2022 carries an element of disjointedness that may not suit either club or player.

There is then the possibility of him extending his contract with the Hurricanes for one more season. So whatever Super Rugby he does play next year, he does so for them and then potentially makes a fresh start with the Blues when he next plays in the competition in 2022.

And while the Blues would ideally like to have him in their line-up next year and for the duration of his contract, they would undoubtedly see it as a major coup to have Barrett at the club in 2022 and 2023.

There is still, though, despite Barrett's decision to relocate to Auckland, no certainty that he'll commit to the Blues given the lack of success the club has enjoyed and the obvious lack of quality they have in key positions other than first-five.

And while it would be a major snub if Barrett opted to live in Auckland but not play for the Blues, he wouldn't be the first to do just that.

Daniel Carter lived in Auckland throughout the last two years of his time in New Zealand, but opted to commute back and forth to Christchurch to remain with the Crusaders.

What the Blues will be hoping is that Barrett decides that the impact on his family life and subsequent physical and mental state will be too heavily compromised by constantly travelling between Auckland and Wellington and that he concludes the sacrifice of staying loyal to the Hurricanes is too great to make.

He's not expected to reveal his plans until after the Hurricanes' Super Rugby season has finished.

That could be this weekend and the All Blacks coaches will no doubt be keen for him to have his future signed before he comes into camp for the Rugby Championship in mid-July.

- By Gregor Paul 

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