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Beauden Barrett: From hero to zero to Cullen

By Adam Pearse

Beauden ‘Beaudy’ Barrett. The current World Player of the Year and Taranaki’s premier attraction aside from a mountain and Michael Campbell. A man who is in unstoppable form as of late in the Super Rugby competition and is receiving unending praise from sports pundits around the world. They call him the best rugby player there has ever been. They call him Cullen 2.0. It seems the man can do no wrong. However, it wasn’t always like this. It’s ironic that those in the media whose job it is remain vigilant and watchful, are the first to forget their past condemnations of Beaudy as they heap him with approval.

When Barrett first came on the scene for the Hurricanes and then for the All Blacks, his talent was obvious. He’s one of those players that is always in the right place at the right time and can switch the flow of a game as he pleases. With his inspirational ball carrying skills and blistering pace, it was only a matter of time before national honours were bestowed. This is where we enter the hero phase of Beaudy’s transformation. Seeing as we had a more than capable No 10 by the name of DC running the show, it allowed Barrett to come off the bench as the very definition of a super sub, and take the team home in the final 30. He was a perfect 22. The energy and pace at which he played the game, reinvigorated the team. His versatility meant he could slot in at 10 or 15 and not disrupt the flow of the game. It seemed a role that was made for him and in the eyes of the media and the rest of New Zealand, he was the golden boy.

Then came the retirement of Dan Carter. It was after this that Barrett quickly went from the top of the pile down to the bottom. After some time in the gig, Aaron Cruden fell victim to injury and poor form, giving Barrett the chance to take up the flyhalf mantle. It was a move that was met with great optimism but soon became one of despair. Barrett couldn’t kick. It was as simple as that. Whether it be conversions or penalties, like and an alcohol addiction, the man just couldn’t kick it. And just like that, the media turned on him. Suddenly, he wasn’t the assured man under the high ball, he was the shaky kicker in front of a tee. He became a threat to our chances of winning and the amazing prodigy of yesterday was soon becoming the forgotten prospect of today.

Fast forward to the current day. The man is being hailed as the best ever. His little brother, Jordie Barrett is taking over the kicking duties at the ‘Canes letting Beaudy focus on what he does best, dazzling defences with fantastic footwork. With the impending challenge of a Lions tour, it’s no wonder the media are hyping him up to be the greatest All Black ever. It just shows you whether it’s admiring Julian Savea’s power only to shame his weight or applauding SBW’s versatility on the park only to criticize his insistence on offloading in the tackle, the media is a fickle beast. What we need to be doing is stop comparing Beaudy to Cullen. They are two different players that succeed in two different times. Secondly, let’s just chill out on the whole GOAT shit. Just let Beaudy do his thing and hopefully, we’ll have a whole lot of disappointed Brits come June.

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