Utility back Jordie Barrett has revealed the circumstances that almost drove him to quit rugby and take up cricket full time.
Barrett was a prodigious cricket talent as a youngster, even more so than a rugby prodigy. And he was determined to make it as a professional cricketer and play for the Blacks Caps.
Speaking to RugbyPass, Barrett said his commitment to cricket stemmed from a believe that he was not in the top 50 schoolboys rugby players in New Zealand, which was one of the reasons he didn’t make the NZ Secondary Schools side in 2014.
‘To tell you the truth, I was a skinny white battler at high school,’ Barrett said.
‘I could kick a ball but I still hadn’t had my growth spurt by then. I was only six foot and playing first-five and I would’ve been nowhere near in the frame of New Zealand schools, so that wasn’t a tough pill to swallow.
‘I knew I wasn’t really in the top 50 rugby players in New Zealand, at that stage, and that’s just when I was just enjoying my cricket.’
Even in the first year of his rugby scholarship at Lincoln University, cricket was Barrett’s top priority. And if it had worked out, he could have easily walked away from rugby altogether.
‘That first year out of school, cricket was more my priority. I was spending more time in the indoor nets down there at Lincoln University than I was in the gym,’ he explained.
But everything changed and his career went in the opposite direction when Barrett missed out on selection in the New Zealand squad for the 2016 ICC U19 Cricket World Cup. He was placed on standby for the tournament in Bangladesh.
‘I was playing Central Districts U19s then, and I was giving the New Zealand U19s a red-hot crack because there was the World Cup at the end of the year. At the start of 2016, I played prems for Lincoln University as well as Crusaders Knights,’ Barrett added.
‘And then, that was the same year as the U20s, and Razor [Scott Robertson] was head coach and he picked me for that, and then picked me in his Canterbury Mitre 10 side, so that’s basically where it all started.’
On the back of his excellent performances in his only season for Canterbury, Barrett was fast-tracked into the Hurricanes squad and a year later, he was a capped All Black and included in the squad to take on the British & Irish Lions.
‘It was a funny one because I was getting told by a lot of people from the respective codes that you’ve gotta start choosing, gotta start specialising in one.
‘My parents, the whole time, they just keep saying, nah, you don’t have to commit to anyone – just keep playing both sports for as long as possible and then whatever happens, happens.
‘Basically, that’s all it was. It happened that I didn’t make the U19 World Cup squad and then I made U20s for rugby the next year and I didn’t really have a chance to go back to cricket the next summer so it just worked out that way.’
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