Beauden Barrett will still be eligible for All Blacks selection next year despite his upcoming move to Japan where he will play for Top League side, Suntory Sungoliath.
This move will be a part of a ‘sabbatical’ which is essentially a year playing outside of New Zealand which is increasingly being allowed to take place within New Zealand Rugby contracts so to allow a player to earn more money abroad for a year before returning to New Zealand.
However, initial reports of a two-year deal in Japan were slightly wide off the mark.
Barrett has signed a one-year contract where he will play for Suntory Goliath in 2021. As a result, he will miss the Auckland Blues’ 2021 Super Rugby season, however, he will be eligible to play for the All Blacks for the ‘2021 international season.’
It is not year clear when Barrett will be available for the All Blacks in 2021 i.e. whether it will be for the summer tours or the beginning of the Rugby Championship towards the end of the summer.
“The arrangement is similar to what was in place for Beaudy’s All Blacks teammates Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock who played in Japan this year,” NZR General Manager Chris Lendrum said.
“That flexibility in our contracting is key: it allows our top players to refresh in a different rugby environment but remain committed to New Zealand Rugby which, in the long term, is great for both parties.”
Beauden Barrett signed a four-year contract with the Auckland Blues and New Zealand Rugby for four years which will see him play for the Blues and remain in New Zealand for another two years after he returns from Japan.
“For me it made sense to go next year and then have two years back with the Blues and hopefully the All Blacks in the lead-up to the Rugby World Cup,” said Barrett.
“My wife and I are excited to head to Japan next year. It is an appealing place for a young family and comparatively safe in health terms.”