Jordie aim­ing for bulk of at­ten­tion

Herald on Sunday - - IN OTHER NEWS - By Liam Napier in Bris­bane

His older brother hogs head­lines but last year’s won­derkid Jordie Bar­rett could gar­ner just as much at­ten­tion this sea­son.

Al­ready taller and broader than Beau­den, Jordie has bulked up to put on 6kg as he con­tin­ues his re­cov­ery from shoul­der surgery.

The 20-year-old has been spot­ted fre­quently munch­ing away in chang­ing rooms be­fore and af­ter train­ing in an ef­fort to in­crease his frame.

It is com­mon for the All Blacks, through pro­grammes de­vised by strength and con­di­tion­ing trainer Nic Gill, to add size to younger ath­letes.

In Bar­rett’s case, 6kg could have a huge im­pact, al­low­ing him to take con­tact bet­ter and po­ten­tially surge through tack­les as well as pos­si­bly adding ex­tra length to his al­ready boom­ing boot.

Bar­rett is su­perb in the air, fast and dy­namic with ball in hand and a qual­ity goal kicker too. Now, with ex­tra bulk, his come­back just got that bit more in­trigu­ing.

“In­juries al­ways have a down­side and an up­side. The up­side for him is that he’s had a re­ally good op­por­tu­nity to put some con­di­tion­ing on,” Hur­ri­canes coach Chris Boyd con­firmed at the Bris­bane Global Tens.

“He has come back and he’s look­ing pretty frisky. I don’t think he’s lost any speed with the size, so that bodes well for him.”

Pre­vi­ously listed at 96kg, Bar­rett has now cracked the cen­tury mark.

“Shall we say some­thing like 115kg, that might get pun­ters think­ing,” Boyd joked. “At 115kg and six foot five, that would ri­val Don Clarke, wouldn’t it?”

Bar­rett will not travel to South Africa or Ar­gentina but is on track to re­turn in ei­ther the Hur­ri­canes’ third (Cru­saders) or fourth

Su­per Rugby match (High­landers) which are split by the bye.

He is ex­pected to again slot in at full­back for the Hur­ri­canes in a com­pet­i­tive back three even­tu­ally com­pris­ing Nehe Mil­ner-Skud­der, Ju­lian Savea or Wes Goosen. Long-term, the added weight opens the prospect of Bar­rett fea­tur­ing at sec­ond five-eighth, the po­si­tion he starred in through­out the ju­nior ranks.

What a lux­ury it will be for the All Blacks to carry some­one gen­uinely com­fort­able per­form­ing any­where from mid­field to full­back.

“Jordie is still pick­ing his way through where he might end up po­si­tion­ally,” said Boyd. “He’s a good team man and wher­ever the team needs him, he’ll be happy to play. He is one of those guys that at a pinch he could prob­a­bly play any po­si­tion other than half­back.

“If you had to toss him in at 10, he’d prob­a­bly do a good job. He could cer­tainly play 12 and 13 and he’s quick enough to play on the wing. He’s one of those multi-tal­ented guys.

“He’ll play at full­back for us when he comes back, and when Nehe Mil­ner-Skud­der re­turns, we’ll work out who is go­ing where.”

All in­juries are cruel but the tim­ing of Bar­rett’s last year was par­tic­u­larly so, given Ben Smith’s sab­bat­i­cal. Af­ter his im­pres­sive de­but along­side fel­low Hur­ri­canes rookie Ngani Laumape in the third Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions test, Bar­rett was set to chal­lenge Damian McKen­zie for the All Blacks full­back role, only to be robbed of the chance and side­lined.

With McKen­zie switch­ing his fo­cus to first-five with the Chiefs this sea­son, Bar­rett will be ex­pected to deputise and push All Blacks vice­cap­tain Smith.

“It’s a bit of a Bar­rett trait; he’s pretty hor­i­zon­tal, he doesn’t get too fazed by much. He’s not in­tim­i­dated by the big stage at all; in fact, he rel­ishes it.”

Boyd in­di­cated Mil­ner-Skud­der would re­turn from his shoul­der surgery in May, while Coles’ re­cov­ery from his ACL rup­ture will stretch into June.

Getty Im­ages

Jordie Bar­rett

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