What's your game plan?
The Barrett farm on the North Island of New Zealand has become more famous for its rugby players than its beef, turning out the World Player of the Year in 2016 and 2017, Beauden, along with four siblings who are all impressive with the oval ball. This depth of talent and drive was formed at an early age and, like with many family dynasties, the internal rivalry proved to be a successful training ground. The result is another outrageously talented All Black who’s not shy in making his voice heard both on and off the field.
This is Beauden Barrett’s game plan.
Where does your drive for success come from?
My work ethic comes from my parents, watching them as a youngster, growing up on the farm. Eight kids, a sense of teamwork, and having to work hard for the family; nothing was ever taken for granted. They’re inspiring so I guess that drives me; watching them and how they dedicate their lives for us.
We’re given an opportunity to play footy for a living. It’s a pretty awesome job and you just want to make the most of it, and be the best you can be. I’m always striving to be better.
Farming is the family business but rugby comes a close second with your father, brothers and sisters all playing. What do you draw from that family rivalry?
Our house is very competitive, always has been and I think that’s very healthy. As brothers, growing up we would be fighting on the back lawn playing rugby every single day. Competitiveness is a positive trait that I have in my daily life as well as on the field. I’m not one to be loud and shout in your face about it, but I’ve got a bit of drive deep down within me, for sure.
Did you ever fall out with your siblings?
Absolutely, there were loads of fights growing up. Now it’s fine, but we’re all very competitive, wanting to outdo each other, particularly the younger boys. Jordie’s the youngest now, but he’s probably showing the most potential. I think that’s through him wanting to be like his big brothers. I think that’s pretty cool.
You’re such a versatile player – fly-half, full-back, wing. Where did you pick up these skill sets?
I guess that the skill sets are very similar for those positions. We have to work on a tactical side of the game, to play the full-back or fly-half. Growing up, playing in the backyard, that’s where you’d learn the skills. Kicking the ball around with your brothers at playtime, at school; I did it because it was fun. It wasn’t a chore for me; I just enjoyed working hard and working on my game, and always wanting to be better.
The half-back or first five, they get all the glory, I suppose, so everyone wants to be that person, like the quarterback of the team. The way it unfolded – that was my position – my physique, my size and skills suited it.
When you have to switch position do you mentally change something in how you approach the game?
The challenging part is when you come off the bench. I normally cover two positions, so I get a lot of confidence through my preparation during the week; mental preparation and physical preparation. I know, by the time I get to the game, I just want to have a clear head and just get out there, have fun, decide, and fully commit to whatever I’m doing. I get a little bit nervous on the bench because I don’t know when I’m going on or in what position. But I know, once I get out there – I’m just excited and I’m not over-thinking it because I have done my work during the week.
What tips do you have for anyone starting a new position?
I think, just being yourself, firstly. You also have to put yourself out there to be uncomfortable, to have those conversations, to grow as a person, to challenge yourself. I think you can sit there and not progress. You’re not challenging yourself to have those awkward or courageous conversations. I think that’s one way you can get better.
The teams I’ve been in – the successful ones are those where you’re all aligned to one vision, and nothing’s going to get in the way. When something does, you just have to tell them that that’s not good enough, that’s not acceptable. If you’re fully committed to that, then you’ve just got to do it. It’s not personal, it’s just you’ve got to do it. It’s for the benefit of the team, it’s for the benefit of what we’re doing. If they take that personally, then it’s their problem, they have to handle it.