Beauden Barrett is set to make his long-awaited return for the Blues on Saturday, but his leadership and input off the field has proved invaluable for the Auckland side.
So says assistant coach Dan Halangahu, after the two-time World Rugby Player of the Year was named on the bench against the Chiefs at Eden Park.
This weekend’s clash will mark the All Black playmaker’s first outing for the Blues in two years, and also his first appearance since November after recovering from concussion.
“We don’t take chances with anyone’s career or anything like that, so Beauden’s taking his time coming back,” Halangahu said. “[But] what he has done is add huge amounts off-field.
“We’re extremely fortunate now that we’ve got a little more experience, guys who have been on tour in that November period, such as Rieko [Ioane], but Rieko’s not a lone soldier in the backs anymore.
“Now he’s got a few more allies and leaders coming back from that tour so Beauden, even though he hasn’t contributed on-field yet, he does add a lot off-field.
“[He is] extremely professional, and drives our backline, in particular, but the whole team has to turn up and do well.
“As I said, to give guys like a Rieko a few more allies, it’s really important for us to grow that leadership throughout the whole group.”