Reports: Beauden Barrett and Nepo Laulala in discussions with French clubs
Considerable player movement has become the norm in the aftermath of rugby’s showpiece tournament and many would have anticipated that a significant number of senior All Blacks would look offshore following next year’s tournament, which will be hosted in France.
A slew of current All Blacks – including the likes of Laulala, Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Aaron Smith and Richie Mo’unga – are all currently signed on contracts that run until the end of 2023 and while New Zealand Rugby will undoubtedly try to keep some players in the country beyond the World Cup, it seems inevitable that a number of them will take major offers with overseas clubs.
Reports out of France suggest that the Blues pairing of Laulala and Barrett are two such players.
According to RMC Sport, 31-year-old tighthead prop Laulala, who has earned 41 appearances for New Zealand since his Test debut in 2015, is being eyed up as a direct replacement for Charlie Faumuina at France’s most successful club, Stade Toulousain. Toulouse were crowned Top 14 champions last season and boast a playing roster that includes such talents as Julien Marchand, Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack.
While Laulala has already forged a strong career in NZ, he’s fallen out of favour recently and found himself unable to crack the match-day squad, with relative youngsters Tyrel Lomax and Fletcher Newell preferred in the most recent spate of matches.
Meanwhile, Barrett, a former World Rugby Player of the Year, is supposedly in talks with Racing 92 about joining the club following France 2023.
Barrett has been an All Blacks mainstay since debuting in 2012 and has clocked up over a century of appearances in the black jersey. Barrett remains locked in a battle with Richie Mo’unga to wear the No 10 jersey.
At 31 years of age, Barrett best years are perhaps coming to a close and the talented utility back would undoubtedly attract a significant paycheck at Racing, where former All Blacks flyhalf Dan Carter also spent three seasons towards the end of his career.
While Lauala and Barrett would both be losses to New Zealand, they have given ample service to the black jersey and have well and truly earned big money deals overseas, should that be where the future takes them.
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