The Blues first five-eighth joined Sky Sport’s Breakdown show and said he’d love to play at a full Eden Park.
New Zealand could potentially move to Level 1 as soon as next week and with that, crowds may become more of a reality this season. Barrett and his Blues teammates could well be playing in front of fans at the iconic Auckland stadium sooner rather than later.
“A full Eden Park would be great. There’s nothing like taking the field and competing in a match and it’s going to be extra significant being against my old mates. I can’t wait to rip into it and put on the Blues jersey for the first time.”
The Blues host the Hurricanes in round one on Sunday 14 June at 3:05pm, setting up the perfect grudge match against Barrett’s former team. Video analysis means coaches know a lot more about players on the field, but he can still offer some insight.
“It’s more around personnel and understanding the behaviour of my former teammates that I can pass on those experiences with.”
Not only will he be coming up against his mates, but he’ll face younger brother Jordie, who he’s got used to playing alongside rather than against.
“He’s a big boy now. It’s been a while since I used to make him cry at home in the backyard. So, it’s going to be a good match up. With Scott, I didn’t bump into him too often being a big brute in the second row, but in the backs, we do clash a fair bit so there may be a few contacts.”
Barrett’s remarkable 4min 12sec bronco time has been well documented. He said during lockdown he stuck to the plan that the Blues trainer gave the team.
“I was training pretty hard in the lockdown because there was nothing else to do. I can run the fastest bronco, but as soon as I have to do a few tackles and some pick and go’s which we did 100 metres of the other day, one of Tom Coventry’s drills, it was unbelievably hard. I couldn’t run anywhere.”
The 29 year-old really valued the mental break during Covid-19 as it gave him a chance to do things he’s never done before and not think about rugby for a while. He believes a lot of players will benefit from being away from the physical aspect of the game, saying hopefully it would prolong player’s careers.
Barrett’s been careful about the way he’s come into the Blues environment, conscious not to step on any toes.
“I’m extremely aware that I can’t come in and be so vocal straight away. I can lead through the things I do with my actions. It’s just being a bit aware of the leaders in that environment and allow them to be the main voices. It is more unit meetings where I would be a bit more vocal and then slowly building up on the field.
“It is quite tough sometimes finding situations where I want to say something, but I have bit my tongue. The boys have been so welcoming.”
Like we saw in the earlier rounds of Super Rugby before the break, Barrett expects the Blues to continue playing an exciting brand of rugby.
“Every team wants to play a game that’s fun to play and therefore you will see a fair bit of ball being thrown around, playing that expansive, exciting game we all love to play and watch. The thing is we understand each other so well. With afternoon rugby too, that will add to a little bit more ball being thrown around and the ball won’t be as wet or dewy, so that’s going to be great.”
Barrett and wife Hannah announced last month that they are expecting their first child in September, and some of the chores that come with fatherhood are pretty intimidating for the All Blacks pivot.
“I’m a bit more daunted about changing a nappy than making a tackle. Unless it’s Ngani Laumape or Ben Lam.”
Catch the Breakdown every Tuesday night at 8:30pm on Sky Sport 1.