Former Springbok flyhalf Butch James finds it ‘very strange’ that Beauden Barrett continues to play at fullback for both the Blues and All Blacks.
James was speaking on the bi-weekly chat show ‘Use It or Lose It’, hosted by his former Springbok teammates, Jean de Villiers and Schalk Burger.
During the talk, De Villiers brought up the debate of whether Barrett should continue to be played at fullback or revert back to flyhalf.
Barrett played a good chunk of his Hurricanes career in the No 10 jersey but was shifted to fullback during 2019 as the All Blacks accommodated Richie Mo’unga in the starting lineup. Barrett has continued to play at fullback for his new side the Blues in Super Rugby Aotearoa and has been in excellent form, helping the team to three wins in the first three rounds.
Despite this, James – who helped the Springboks win the 2007 World Cup – opined that Barrett would be better served if he was allowed to play at flyhalf, reasoning that the player would see more of the ball in the position.
‘I find it very strange that they are playing him at 15, not just for the Blues, but also for the All Blacks,’ James said. ‘I know Richie Mo’unga has also been brilliant and has been playing good rugby. But you want your best player to be getting his hands on the ball as much as he can.
‘At fullback, he probably gets some good opportunities to counter-attack … but he will never get as many opportunities as he would as a flyhalf.’
James also questioned why the Blues would play Barrett at 10 when, as he argued, the side have lacked an all-round quality player in the position for so long. The Blues did sign Dan Carter for Super Rugby Aotearoa, but have preferred Otere Black at 10.
Black has been in superb form, especially from the kicking tee, while the Blues also have a promising young player in Harry Plummer and the currently injured Stephen Perofeta to play in the position.
‘So, I find it very strange that they have moved him to fullback. Especially at the Blues,’ James said. ‘I know Dan Carter is there now. But they have been battling to find a proper flyhalf at the Blues for around 10 years now – since Carlos Spencer left.
‘For me, it would be a no-brainer. He has got to play at 10 – especially for the Blues, but for the All Blacks as well. I know they have got some brilliant flyhalves around at the moment. But [Barrett is] the best rugby player in the world at the moment and you are not using him in his preferred position.’
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