Waiting almost over for Barrett
Sportal.co.nz 23 Jan 2013 Getty Images
"I'm still learning, and learning lots," he said of his craft, "so you've just got to act like a sponge and take it all in and I can't wait to hopefully get a crack on the field."
While fresh to the Super Rugby level, Barrett does have the advantage of having been involved in the very peak of domestic rugby by playing in Ranfurly Shield matches during Taranaki's defences last year.
"It was an ideal time to come into the Taranaki team, they were one of the top four teams. People say that Ranfurly Shield is pretty taxing and certainly we found that out because every team comes at you like a final so hopefully that experience will help coming into Super Rugby," he said.
"My goal has always been to be a professional rugby and now I've got the opportunity it is a case of 'let's rip into it'," he said.
While he is happy with his first exposure to professional Super Rugby play with the Blues it has been a frustrating route for Barrett.
He first played ITM Cup for Taranaki in 2010 but it was just a taster for him as he made the adjustment from schoolboys, where he played for New Zealand Schools, to the first-class game.
Then in 2011, halfway through club season, he did the cartilage in his top rib which put him out of action for nine months. Initially, it was an eight-week break and while cleared to return to play before he felt quite right, he suffered a recurrence and a second time around ensured he waited until he was feeling 100 percent right to return.
"Any rib injury takes a long time because I think cartilage is slower to heal. It was rather frustrating because everyone says to you, 'What's wrong with you, you haven't got a cast on?' and you haven't got anything to show for it," he said.
While still mobile enough to continue working with sides he was unable to get involved in contact work.
But patience proved a virtue as he got the chance to join the Taranaki side for last season's ITM Cup and to enjoy a good campaign and from that came selection for the Blues for Super Rugby.
"It was a goal come true to be honest. Ever since I was at school [I was keen]," he said.
The Taranaki connection has also helped in understanding the role required of him for Super Rugby. Many of the systems in place as a result of the experienced coaching staff and the core of knowledge in the team itself, had all made the transition to Super Rugby easier for him.
"It's reinforcing a lot of things but then there are a lot of new things as well so it's just a matter of bringing them together," he said.
While capable of playing lock, albeit without the height, he prefers playing loose forward. It was good to have the versatility factor to his game although it did involve more responsibility having to know the calls for both positions in lineouts as well as the respective roles for locks and blindside flankers.
"I love being free and to attack the ball. I love being able to work on the ball and around the rucks," he said.
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