Beauden Barrett hopes to remain in contention for the New Zealand number 10 jersey by impressing in Japan’s Top League, as he was unveiled as a Suntory Sungoliath player in Tokyo yesterday.
Part of Barrett’s contract with New Zealand Rugby allows him to play a sabbatical overseas, and the two-time World Rugby Player of the Year has joined Suntory for the 2021 Top League season, which begins next week.
Despite taking a year out from Super Rugby and the spotlight of playing at home, the 29-year-old is eager to impress All Blacks boss Ian Foster and claim the no. 10 jersey, having featured heavily at fullback in recent years.
“I have got a little bit of work to do in terms of slotting back into that role (first-five),” Barrett said.
“I think one would expect me to play a little more at number 10 and that is certainly something I am aspiring to do back in New Zealand for the All Blacks.”
Barrett is one of a number of high-profile foreign players who have joined Japanese clubs this season, including compatriots Kieran Read, TJ Perenara and Ben Smith.
Barrett could have chosen to play a season in France where, as a non-exempt foreign-based player, he would have ruled himself out for contention for the All Blacks. But he chose Japan in large part because that would allow him to better prepare for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.