New Zealand-based writer Hamish Bidwell claims Beauden Barrett has fallen from matching the greatness of Dan Carter to becoming an ‘afterthought’ in the All Blacks set-up.
The All Blacks have fallen on hard times over the past 12 months, resulting in several players and coaching staff being singled out and criticised by the New Zealand media and public. In his latest column, Bidwell directs his censure at Barrett, who has dropped to second in the pecking order for the All Blacks No 10 jersey. Instead, he has been utilised at fullback more often than flyhalf.
‘Barrett isn’t even the best fullback in his family and is flat out getting a game at first-five for anyone,’ Bidwell wrote for RugbyPass.
‘So how has it got to this? How is it that Barrett – in the eyes of many of his peers the best New Zealand player of this generation – wears 15 most of the time now, doesn’t goal kick and seemingly isn’t going to become the dominant force we all assumed?
‘Having been groomed for it for years, why was he not New Zealand’s first five-eighth at the 2019 Rugby World Cup? How did a team that was supposedly “his” end up in the hands of Richie Mo’unga?
‘If he’s not playing 10 and kicking all the goals and calling all the shots and taking ownership for all the results, then why is he actually in the team? Especially when Jordie Barrett is the better fullback.
‘By being choosy about how much Super Rugby he’s prepared to play, the 29-year-old has given others the opportunity to shine in his absence.
‘Mo’unga has guided the Crusaders to four franchise titles on the trot and then Barrett suffered the embarrassment of not being able to displace Otere Black at the Blues.
‘Would Barrett have been better as a one-club man? Could, instead of putting snaps on social media from the Super Bowl, he have been back in New Zealand fighting for the No 10 jersey?
‘The All Blacks’ backline selection policy is a bit of a shambles right now. It’s very much a case of picking the most talented players and then finding somewhere for them to play, regardless of suitability.
‘Jordie Barrett is not a test wing and the sooner we abandon that experiment the better. Might he be good in midfield? Well, while we are abandoning backline experiments, let’s not let Rieko Ioane have a run at 13 again.
‘For now, Jordie Barrett’s best spot is 15. In fact, if he’s not playing there, he probably shouldn’t be on the park. It’s just that if he’s fullback, what happens to Beauden?
‘When Barrett was World Rugby Player of the Year in 2016 and 2017 you’d have suggested the best was still to come. That he’d lead the All Blacks to the 2019 World Cup title and win game after game after game from flyhalf, building a legacy to almost match that of Daniel Carter.
‘Strange as it sounds, the debate around Barrett might now centre around whether he ever did manage to realise his immense potential, instead of where he ranks among the all-time greats?
‘Either way, it’s hard to fathom how quickly it’s all come to this.’