The All Blacks, already possessors of enough rugby talent to supply most of the world, have a new dilemma for Coach Steve Hansen to deal with, as Jordie Barrett continues to make a strong argument for selection for the All Blacks.
Barrett just seems to get better and better as the Super Rugby season progresses. He has always been a big, strong and fast performer for the Hurricanes, but the 21-year-old has emerged this season bigger, stronger and faster-er.
Barrett missed out on All Blacks selection for the 2019 World Cup, apparently the result of a ball kicked in anger earlier in 2018.
If that does not sum up the multitude of riches from which the All Blacks make their selections, it is hard to say what does sum up that multitude. A moment of pique tipped the selection balance away from Barrett’s direction.
Barrett had a breakthrough campaign in 2017, where he so far exceeded expectations that he caught more than a few New Zealand rugby experts off guard. He combines prodigious athletic ability with a skill set and an instinctive awareness of the game that has led to some referring to him as “Air Jordie,” a homage to a certain Chicago Bulls basketball player from the 90s who redefined the game.
He suffered a shoulder injury in late 2017, but beyond that, there seems as though nothing will impede his progress. Hansen and the other pickers might soon find themselves with a surplus of players at the fullback position.
No problem there. Barrett can also play the midfield with aplomb and if pressed, he could even make his way as a wing of first five-eighth.
Unless he finds a way to self-destruct, and rugby players are notoriously creative when it comes to that pitfall, Barrett is the sort of player who will establish a new standard for the way the fullback position is played.