Back-to-back World Rugby Player of the Year Beauden Barrett had another top season with the Hurricanes in 2018, helping the side reach the semi-finals for the fourth season in a row. They fell just short of making their third final in four years, falling to the Crusaders in Christchurch.
With the Hurricanes now heading into their off-season, RugbyPass reviews Barrett’s top 10 plays of the season.
10. Scrambling exit kick vs Jaguares
What makes a world-class 10 is the extra effort plays, the decisions, and the one percenters.
This recovery play by Barrett against the Jaguares showed both extraordinary skill and execution, getting the Hurricanes out of a sticky situation. Scrambling back to cover a driving Jaguares kick off a turnover, Barrett picks up the ball on the bounce and looks to get a good position for a right-footed kick to the far touchline.
With Jaguares winger pressing, he quickly decelerates, swiveling on the spot before dropping it onto the left foot for a booming exit kick that finds touch on halfway on the other side.
To nail an exit kick off the wrong foot under pressure is a tremendous piece of play, and worthy of making this list of top 10 plays at number 10.
9. Kicking duel vs Chiefs
Over the past few seasons, Barrett’s out-of-hand kicking has become an integral part of the Hurricanes’ success.
His ability to dictate terms from the back has often led to territorial gains for his side and has also opened up counter-attacking opportunities. Here against the Chiefs at home was one of his best moments from the back.
Again off his unnatural left foot, Barrett drives a raking kick down to the Chiefs five, forcing Charlie Ngatai to clear with a bad angle. His return kick finds Barrett at the back with room to run, and he puts the foot down to swerve through the Chiefs defence. A last-ditch grubber fails to find Vince Aso and rolls over the sideline.
If this grubber kick had found the mark and led to a try this would be a lot higher on the list, but even so, the net gain for the Hurricanes put the Chiefs deep on their own line. Barrett won the kicking duel and created a scoring opportunity.
8. Spectator intercept vs Rebels
Barrett missed out on scoring this brilliant heads-up try against the Rebels due to a teammate’s previous indiscretion but that doesn’t stop it being a highly impressive piece of skill.
Defending at fullback, Barrett rushes up to take the last man as the defensive system dictates. Facing a two-on-one he reads Jack Maddocks and plays for the pass, getting a tip before reigning in the ball after a few bobbles. If not for advantage being played in the Rebels favour, this would’ve been one of Barrett’s best tries.
The intercept negated a promising Rebels opportunity, still providing some impact to his side.
7. Set-piece fun vs Sunwolves
A favourite play the Hurricanes run is to give Barrett a running opportunity with direct ball off the scrum. He has scored countless times from this setup, giving sliding defence headaches.
On this occasion, a sharp step off the left foot beats the covering halfback easily, before an offload in the tackle draws in two defenders. His pass finds Finlay Christie backing up on the inside who goes over for his first Super Rugby try. A smart piece of work by Barrett and one of his best assists of the year.
6. Beauden Barrett vs Sam Whitelock
It’s not often you see a 10 bump off one of the biggest men in the game which is why this explosive piece of contact from Barrett makes the list.
Sam Whitelock doesn’t usually come off second best, but Barrett’s slight late change of angle puts him in an awkward position. Barrett wins the collision and spins through another tackle attempt by Matt Todd. Whitelock was eventually removed from the field for an HIA, which he failed.
Fortunately, the inspirational Crusader recovered from his concussion injury to help lead the Crusaders all the way to the Super Rugby final.
5. Pin-point defensive bomb vs. Rebels
One new aspect of the Hurricanes gameplan and Barrett’s game by extension was the defensive bomb.
An addition to the variety of exit strategies was the newly implemented tactic. The kick has a similar net gain to a box kick, with a contestable ball for the openside winger. In Round 7 against the Rebels, Barrett hoisted one in the air that came down millimetres inside the touchline, bouncing fortuitously for winger Ben Lam.
Whilst there was a significant amount of good fortune on this play, it was still stunning nonetheless.
4. Barrett’s Tekkers against the Highlanders
Barrett’s knack of anticipating the bounce of the ball is almost superhuman. His ability to pull off a big play against the run of play was on show again against the Highlanders at home in a derby clash.
A short grubber by Rob Thompson was toed ahead again by Ben Smith. Barrett, racing up from fullback, blocks Smith’s kick with an outstretched left foot before kicking it upward with his right foot before it hits the ground. The ball floats up perfectly into his grasp and he snatches it, swerves around Aaron Smith and heads the other way for the first try of the match in an outstanding play.
3. Scoop’n’score vs. the Chiefs
Another opportunist try came against the Chiefs in the home derby at a critical point in the match, with the Hurricanes holding a slim 10-6 lead.
Ben Lam does a great job of forcing a loose pass from Sean Wainui in the tackle. The loose ball is scooped up by a flying Barrett from around his ankles at full speed. With Brodie Retallick closing down on him with the better angle, he puts the ball ahead with a grubber kick before just beating him to the chase with a diving finish.
An incredible turn of play with a range of top-level skills on show by Barrett.
2. Quick lineout NFL style
This stunning NFL-style heave from a quick lineout led to a massive Hurricanes line break.
Barrett grabs the ball and restarts play quickly with a massive one-handed quarterback throw, finding Ben Lam in the middle of the field who breaks a tackle and heads off downfield. The movement ends when Jordie Barrett is tackled inside the 22 by a brilliant cover tackle by Solomon Alaimalo, saving a try.
The massive swing in momentum occurred directly after a Chiefs break down the left-hand side which was only nullified by Barrett getting enough contact on Solomon Alaimalo to put him into touch.
Barrett showed once again you can never let your guard down when he is on the field.
1. Freakish juggling intercept and flick pass vs the Blues
From 20-metres away, Barrett sprints off the line to grab this cutout pass from the top of the lineout. He manages to get a fingertip underneath to propel it upwards, before pulling it in. With eyes in the back of his head, he anticipates Ngani Laumape running underneath and flicks a no-look pass out the back to find him in full stride.
The superlatives have already been written about this play enough times over. Sit back, relax, and enjoy.
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