When Jordie Barrett signed his latest contract with New Zealand Rugby almost a year ago to the day, a clause was included that allowed the 17-cap All Black to switch Super Rugby clubs after one year with the Hurricanes. That year is slowly coming to a close and Barrett will soon need to decide where his future lies.
While the Hurricanes have nurtured the 23-year-old since he first signed with the franchise in 2017, it was with Canterbury where the talented utility back announced himself to the New Zealand public through some impressive displays during the 2016 Mitre 10 Cup campaign.
Barrett was studying at Lincoln University, following in the footsteps of older brother Scott, and Canterbury coach Scott Robertson wisely included the youngest Barrett brother in his provincial side for the 2016 season. Barrett went on to play a starring role in Canterbury title-winning run and was named Mitre 10 Cup player of the year.
While the Crusaders were naturally intent on keeping Barrett in the region, he made the decision to head north to the Hurricanes – the side he supported throughout his childhood – and link up with brother Beauden.
Beauden is now playing for the Blues (and will spend 2021) in Japan while Scott was named Crusaders captain ahead of the 2020 season and will remain with the Super Rugby champions until at least 2023.
Jordie now has a massive decision to make – will he stay with the Hurricanes for the foreseeable future, or is change on the horizon?
Hurricanes chief executive Avan Lee is confident that they can retain the youngest Barrett’s services for 2021 and beyond, despite the contract clause.
“We’ve said the whole way through that Jordie is really happy here, and he’s playing the best rugby of his life,” Lee told Stuff. He’s in regular dialogue with Alfie [coach Jason Holland]. We know these guys have choices but we’re confident that Jordie will be with us going forward.
“We realise there is interest from other clubs. I think all four clubs would be happy to have Jordie Barrett on their roster if they could. Definitely one club has made their interest known but we’re confident that Jordie is a Hurricane and loves the team, and we’re not too concerned [that Barrett will depart].”
Lee is right to suggest that any of the Super Rugby clubs would gain hugely from the addition of Barrett.
Matt Duffie, who will line up for the Blues at fullback for the second week in a row on Sunday afternoon, is heading to Honda Heat in Japan next season while the Auckland side also had Joe Marchant on their books for a period this year. They’ll be without Beauden for 2021 and first five option Harry Plummer is also off-contract at the end of the season. That creates plenty of space for Jordie to follow his brother to the Blues, should he choose to do so.
Further south, Brad Weber, Anton Lienert-Brown and Damian McKenzie are probably the only guaranteed selections in the Chiefs backline and Aaron Cruden is once again departing NZ shores. A Barrett-McKenzie combination in the backline could cause havoc for defending sides – though it’s difficult to say which positional combination would suit the two youngsters best.
The Highlanders, meanwhile, are still in recovery mode after losing a host of experienced players following the 2019 Rugby World Cup. They’ve regularly chopped and changed their midfield and back three throughout the year whereas Barrett could add some stability at the back of the field.
The Crusaders are the most well-stocked in the backs of all the New Zealand teams with All Black options available to play in every position jersey from 9 to 15 – but they’d still savour the opportunity to add Barrett to their collection of talented players.
Without a doubt, all five New Zealand sides will be interested at the prospect of having Barrett on their roster next year and where the utility option ends up is anyone’s guess.
Depending on how successful the Hurricanes final three matches of Super Rugby Aotearoa are could have an impact on Barrett’s decision but the safe money would remain on him staying in the capital.
Then again, the safe money was also on Beauden re-signing with the Hurricanes – and we know how that turned out.
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