Beauden Barrett performs drills during a training session at Blues HQ today. Photo/Getty
Beauden Barrett has been ruled out of the Blues‘ Super Rugby Pacific opener against Moana Pasifika as he continues his comeback from a concussion.
Barrett, who returns to the Blues this season after his Japanese sabbatical, has been suffering from concussion symptoms since sustaining a severe blow in a head-on collision in the All Blacks’ loss to Ireland in Dublin last November.
In a positive sign, Barrett trained alongside the Blues’ returning All Blacks in Auckland on Saturday before the team travel to Wellington on Sunday for their first pre-season game against the Hurricanes.
After that game, the Blues continue to Queenstown where they will be based in a bubble, alongside the other five New Zealand sides, for the next month as organizers try to prevent games from being canceled due to the latest outbreak. of Covid.
While his full contingent of nine All Blacks are available for limited minutes duties for the first round, Blues manager Leon MacDonald has confirmed that Barrett will not feature immediately as a cautious approach is taken with his return to action.
“It’s really difficult with concussions to set a date because it puts pressure on the player and they feel like they’re letting people down if they don’t show up on that date,” MacDonald said. .
“He won’t be in the first round and what happens after that, fingers crossed we’re starting to see him in the squad and potentially available. The first round is definitely a miss for Beauden.
“He ran pretty well today and is starting high intensity training. He’s feeling really good, his energy is good. Once he’s inside the Queenstown bubble and he starts talking rugby, it will be difficult to hold him back.”
In Barrett’s initial absence, MacDonald will have a choice of Auckland’s Harry Plummer and Taranaki fullback NPC Player of the Year Stephen Perofeta for the first five-eighth starting role following the departure of Otere Black in Japan.
The Blues will also be without All Blacks mainstay Karl Tu’inukuafe for the first two months of the season after undergoing minor back surgery in December. The injury was originally expected to sideline Tu’inukuafe for the entire season, but he’s now on track for a comeback in April.
“Karl was running today, albeit slowly, but it was his first time on the grass and we hadn’t expected to see this in a long time,” MacDonald said.