'Even Beauden Barrett taking deep breaths': Pace of Japan Top League surprises in Barrett's debut despite lopsided scoreline
The two-time World Rugby Player of the Year’s debut has been a long time coming, with the Top League postponing its season for a month after three clubs – Suntory, Toyota Verblitz and Canon Eagles – suffered a COVID-19 outbreak within its squads.
The Blues pivot scored one of his side’s 11 tries, while former Highlander Tevita Li was the main beneficiary for Suntory, dotting down five times. Despite the lopsided scoreline, the pace of the match seemed to be frantic.
Renown Japanese rugby journalist Rich Freeman noted that after 60 minutes ‘even Beauden Barrett’ was taking deep breaths as the fast-paced game took its toll on the players.
Game played at quick pace – even @beaudenbarrett taking deep breaths
Tevita Li will score a heap of tries this season – 4 so far
— Rich Freeman (@FreemanrugbyJPN) February 21, 2021
Barrett kicked eight goals for a total of 21 points. His try came with the Dynaboars desperately defending their own line with the Sungoliath hot on attack.
Quick service from Japan’s halfback Yutaka Nagare gave Barrett the space to crash over from short range, slicing through the defence after a deft left foot step.
Welcome to the Japanese Top League Beauden Barrett ? First game, first try ?
Mitsubishi Dynaboars v Suntory Sungoliath in the Japanese Top League is LIVE now on Stan Sport. pic.twitter.com/Xv52395aFQ
— StanSportAU (@StanSportAU) February 21, 2021
Barrett was back in his preferred number 10 jersey for Suntory, a position he mentioned before the season he would like to pursue when he returns to New Zealand.
He will not feature for the Blues in this season of Super Rugby Aotearoa, but will be available for All Blacks selection should Ian Foster believe his form warrants.
So happy to start the Japan Top League season yesterday with a good team win. ??
— Beauden Barrett (@beaudenbarrett) February 21, 2021
In other Top League fixtures, Michael Hooper joined Kieran Read at Toyota Verblitz in a tight 34-33 win over Toshiba Brave Lupus while All Black TJ Perenara also squeaked victory for the Red Hurricanes over Canon Eagles 26-24.
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now