The recapture of the youngest Barrett brother will be hugely beneficial for the Wellington franchise as the imminent announcement of his decision to stay in New Zealand’s capital will come shortly after older brother and two-time World Player of the Year Beauden left the club to move north and play for the Blues on a four-year deal.
Coming off contract at the end of the year, plenty of franchises around the country were believed to have made a bid to secure Jordie’s services, with the Blues being one of them as they looked to re-establish the Barrett brother partnership in Auckland.
It is also thought that the Highlanders have put forward a significant offer in an attempt to lure Jordie south, with the Dunedin franchise in desperate need of some firepower as they are set to lose at least 12 key players next year, including six All Blacks and star fullback Ben Smith.
Barrett would have been brought in as a marquee signing to replace the 76-test club legend, but their failure to acquire the youngster will be of more disappointment for Aaron Mauger’s squad, who already missed out on the signature of Crusaders fullback Will Jordan earlier this year.
Rumours have also circulated that a return to Christchurch could be on the cards for Barrett, with the Crusaders another potential destination.
He came through the Canterbury system and played for the province in the Mitre 10 Cup in 2016, while older brother and All Blacks teammate Scott is still on the back-to-back-to-back champion’s books for the next few seasons.
The departure of veteran midfielder Ryan Crotty to Japan could open up a spot in the midfield for Barrett alongside All Blacks centre Jack Goodhue, but with the presence of Braydon Ennor in the squad, the chances of a return to the Garden City appear to be thin.
Consequently, it is understood that Jordie will be staying put in a decision that will ensure all three Barrett brothers will be playing at different franchises in 2020.
The competition for the younger Barrett’s talents echoes the tug-of-war that ensued between the Hurricanes and Crusaders at the end of 2016, with then-incoming Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson trying to keep his New Zealand U20 star in Christchurch upon his arrival at the franchise.
“His home is Taranaki but he loves it here, so we’ll wait and see,” Robertson said at the time.
“We’ve put everything we possibly can in front of him, we’ve given him as much time as we’ve ever given any other player.
“We’d love to have him. It’s tough. It’s one of those ones where you hope but you can understand family and blood is stronger than anything else.”
Missing out on Barrett for a second time won’t particularly hurt the Crusaders’ backline stocks, with the likes of Goodhue, Ennor, Jordan, George Bridge, Sevu Reece, David Havili and Leicester Fainga’anuku all locked in for next year.
However, they have managed to sign Crusaders back-up first-five Mitch Hunt as a replacement for exiting cult hero Marty Banks, while the announcement of a raft of New Zealand U20 stars, including Jona Nareki and Scott Gregory, are expected to be made within the coming weeks.
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