Jordie Barrett has calmed concerns of Hurricanes and All Blacks fans by ruling out a code switch after spending a week in Australia training with NRL and AFL clubs.
Barrett spoke to media today after using his mandatory All Blacks rest week to cross the Tasman to Melbourne where he spent time with both the Melbourne Storm and Richmond.
Images of Barrett training, particularly with the Storm under the watchful eye of coach Craig Bellamy, sparked chatter among fans of a possible switch despite him being signed to New Zealand Rugby until the end of 2025.
Adding to the hype is the recent news of Roosters star Joseph Sualii, who this week was lured away from rugby league on a $1.6 million deal to the Waratahs and Rugby Australia.
Barrett said he won't be making any such switches.
“Certainly not,” Barrett said. “I think that’s why NZR let me go over there, since I’m locked in until 2025.
“I’ve got no desire to do that at the minute.”
Barrett did admit he has a "fascination" with other codes and had he been born in Melbourne, he feels he could've easily ended up chasing an AFL career; a very real option giving his kicking game.
“I guess if I’m interested in it from this far away I’d be engulfed if I was over in Australia," he said.
“I love the style of play – kick, catch and running all day. It probably suits my skill set.
“But I just enjoyed rubbing shoulders with some awesome athletes and some great coaches, and I was able to kick the footy around in the afternoon which I enjoyed.”
Barrett added he had the blessings of both All Blacks coach Ian Foster and Hurricanes coach Jason Holland to pursue the small getaway after the trip was first brought up last year in a chat with Storm general manager Frank Ponisi.
“If you’re looking in all the time you can miss out on a few things, personally and as a team so it was great to be over there and experience those different teams.
“I guess I’m just trying to get better as an athlete, there’s so much you can take from other codes and it’s positive.
“You often look over the ditch and see the clash of the NRL and union in Australia at the moment but I think you’ll find at a player level everyone has a respect for each other.
“There’s so much growth to be had in all codes and you can nitpick things from other environments that can add value to your game, so I’m sure we’ll see a lot more of it.”
Barrett returns this week to immediately slot back into the Hurricanes' starting XV for Sunday's match against the Western Force in Palmerston North, joining Bailyn Sullivan in the midfield.
It's one of four changes to the Hurricanes' backline this week with New Zealand under-20 rep Harry Godfrey also in the mix, earning his first start at fullback. Daniel Sinkinson also makes his Hurricanes debut on the wing.
In the forwards, Pouri Rakete-Stones makes a start at loosehead prop alongside All Blacks’ Dane Coles and Tyrel Lomax following their return from a rest week.
Dominic Bird makes his second start of the season alongside James Blackwell at lock. Du’Plessis Kirifi and Devan Flanders flank Brayden Iose at eight, with TK Howden and Peter Lakai looking to provide impact off the bench.
Hurricanes vs Force, Sunday April 2, 3:35pm, Palmerston North
Hurricanes: 15. Harry Godfrey, 14. Daniel Sinkinson, 13. Bailyn Sullivan, 12. Jordie Barrett, 11. Salesi Rayasi, 10. Brett Cameron, 9. Jamie Booth, 8. Brayden Iose, 7. Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6. Devan Flanders, 5. Dominic Bird, 4. James Blackwell, 3. Tyrel Lomax, 2. Dane Coles (captain), 1. Pouri Rakete-Stones.
Reserves: 16. Hame Faiva, 17. Tevita Mafileo, 18. Owen Franks, 19. TK Howden, 20. Peter Lakai, 21. Cameron Roigard, 22. Riley Higgins, 23. Kini Naholo