The growing trend of professional rugby players moving to Japan continues with the news that Beauden Barrett is set for a lucrative move to the Suntory Sungoliath.
According to the Mail on Sunday’s Nik Simon, the two-time World Rugby Player of the Year has agreed to a two-year deal worth NZ$1.5m per season.
The utility back, who is equally adept at both out-half and full-back, is expected to link up with his new franchise following the conclusion of this year’s autumn internationals.
The move means Barrett will not represent the All Blacks for two years at least. However, it is believed that the New Zealand Rugby Union agreed to the deal in order to ease the financial burden following the onset of Covid-19.
Had he wanted to, there is no doubting that Barrett could have sought a move to Europe. Yet, he has decided to follow in the footsteps of fellow All Blacks Brodie Retallick, Dan Carter and Kieran Read by opting to play in Asia.
Barrett is an undoubted star of rugby and widely regarded among many experts as one of the best players in the world.
One of four brothers currently playing professional rugby, Barrett has lined up alongside younger siblings Jordie and Scott numerous times while representing the All Blacks.
The Barrett family also hold strong ties to Ireland having spent time living here as children while their father Kevin ‘Smiley’ Barrett ran a farm in County Meath. It’s a time in his life Barrett reflects fondly on citing that his superior football skills were honed whilst living in Ireland.
“When I lived in Ireland back in the day, I was only nine or 10 at the time, but I actually wanted to play for Real Madrid back then, until I came back to New Zealand and realised I was a footy (rugby) boy,” Barret said in a 2018 interview.
News of Barrett’s departure will come as a huge blow to All Blacks fans and indeed rugby fans who have enjoyed watching him on the international scene.