The big­gest match of all

Beau­den and Han­nah to marry next week­end

Sunday Star-Times - - Front Page - re­ports Paul Cully.

It’s a wed­ding first, the Rugby World Cup and then likely Ja­pan for a year for All Blacks and Hur­ri­canes No 10 Beau­den Bar­rett. Bar­rett is about to em­bark on one of the busi­est years of his life – start­ing with his wed­ding to part­ner Han­nah Laity next week­end – and at the end of it he will al­most cer­tainly pack his bags for an over­seas ad­ven­ture, with Ja­pan lead­ing France as the likely des­ti­na­tion.

Hur­ri­canes CEO Avan Lee con­firmed to the Sun­day Star-Times he was pre­par­ing to be with­out his star player for 2020 but also had some re­as­sur­ing news for Hur­ri­canes and All Blacks fans – Bar­rett will be back and wants to build a legacy in both jer­seys.

‘‘We’re still talk­ing to his man­age­ment,’’ Lee said. ‘‘There’s in­ter­est in him go­ing away for po­ten­tially one year and then com­ing back. Beaudy’s a very loyal per­son. He’s not go­ing to take off and never come back but there’s some real in­ter­est in him.

‘‘There’s noth­ing con­crete but I’m not sure Beaudy will be here for the whole Rugby World Cup cy­cle from 2020-2023.

‘‘But if he’s here for the ma­jor­ity of that I think that would be a good re­sult for the Hur­ri­canes and the All Blacks.’’

The Ja­pan op­tion for top-line All Blacks such as Bar­rett has be­come in­creas­ingly at­trac­tive for play­ers and for New Zealand Rugby.

Ja­panese cor­po­ra­tions run the clubs in the coun­try’s do­mes­tic Top League com­pe­ti­tion so money is not an is­sue for them, par­tic­u­larly for mar­ketable stars such as Bar­rett.

For New Zealand play­ers Ja­pan of­fers a chance to grow the bank bal­ance and ex­pe­ri­ence a dif­fer­ent cul­ture while know­ing that a same-day flight back to New Zealand to see fam­ily is a pos­si­bil­ity.

For NZR, Ja­pan’s less rig­or­ous com­pe­ti­tion – and plethora of Kiwi coaches – means they are more likely to get their prized as­sets back in one piece.

That could mean the likes of lock Brodie Re­tal­lick could join Bar­rett in Ja­pan. In­deed, Lee said that up to four key All Blacks might head to Ja­pan for the 2020 cal­en­dar year, when two Top League sea­sons are likely to be played, in­creas­ing the play­ers’ earn­ing po­ten­tial.

‘‘You could have be­tween two and four key All Blacks who take up that op­por­tu­nity and then ei­ther re­tire or go north or come back,’’ Lee said.

The tim­ing would seem right for Bar­rett in par­tic­u­lar.

Al­though a de­ci­sion to give up his All Blacks jersey for a year would not be taken lightly, par­tic­u­larly with Crusaders No 10 Richie Mo’unga on the rise, modern play­ers tend to take a whole-of-life ap­proach to their de­ci­sions.

Bar­rett’s im­pend­ing nup­tials bring to that into fo­cus.

‘‘For him, be­ing 26 and get­ting mar­ried next week­end, he’s a young guy with no kids so it could work out re­ally nicely for him to go for a year,’’ Lee said.

The shift would also bring other ben­e­fits in terms of life ex­pe­ri­ence.

Al­though Ja­pan’s rugby may be less phys­i­cally tax­ing, player agents with knowl­edge of the Ja­panese mar­ket say the cor­po­ra­tions have other de­mands. Im­ported play­ers are ex­pected to set high be­havioural stan­dards to in­spire the cor­po­ra­tion’s em­ploy­ees, as well as project a pos­i­tive im­age ex­ter­nally.

As a re­sult, the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence a dif­fer­ent coun­try and cul­ture is one that ap­peals to a huge num­ber of play­ers, par­tic­u­larly if it recharges their bat­ter­ies for a re­turn to New Zealand at a later date.

‘‘Noth­ing has been set in stone. I know there is French in­ter­est in Beau­den as well,’’ Lee said. ‘‘We just stay close to Beau­den and his man­age­ment team. ‘‘He’s got sig­nif­i­cant de­sires to be a key All Black for a num­ber years and achieve more at the Hur­ri­canes so we’re con­fi­dent that Beaudy will be around for a long time.’’


Beau­den Bar­rett and his fi­ancee Han­nah Laity are ty­ing the knot next week­end.

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