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Beauden Barrett wasn’t feeling too flash in Dunedin, but says he has made a quick and full recovery since.
Beauden Barrett feared the worst but hoped for the best when he felt the sickening crunch in his neck early in the second half of the Blues’ recent clash against the Highlanders in Dunedin.
But the 30-year-old 101-test All Black has been revealed in an interview with Stuff his fears had been allayed and that he had “bounced back” as well as could have been expected from that March 27 incident against the southerners in his first start of the season.
After completing a mandatory 10-day head-knock stand-down that coincided with his prescribed All Blacks rest, Barrett has not only returned to active Blues duty, but is likely to step back into the starting role for the first of two important Super Rugby Pacific road clashes against the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday.
Caleb Clarke was sent off but the Blues still had too much firepower for their neighbors Moana Pasifika.
“I was very relieved to wake up on the Sunday morning after the game feeling clear in my head. I just had a very sore neck, ”revealed Barrett of the upshot of that worrying collision with Highlanders midfielder Fetuli Paea. “It’s all good, especially considering where I’ve been, and the things I did to get back to playing.
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“I’m confident in being back playing and psychologically it’s great to get back out there. Yeah, there was a little scare from that Highlanders game, but I’ve bounced back from it well. ”
The reason for the angst – Barrett was initially left prone after copping a hefty blow while attempting to tackle Paea – was it only been weeks ago that the influential playmaker had admitted he had feared for his future in the game after suffering ongoing concussion symptoms following a head knock incurred against Ireland in the November international in Dublin.
Barrett had spent now of his Kiwi summer dealing with the fallout of that blow, and told French newspaper L’Equipe he had got to the point where he wondered if he would ever play again.
“I thought it might be the end of my career. When you feel sluggish 99 per cent of the day, trying several ways to get better, but nothing works, you assume the worst, ”he told the French sports daily of a worrying period when he had been beset by migraines.
After seeing his brother Kane have to give up the game prematurely because of head knocks, and team-mates do likewise over the years, Barrett feared “it was my turn”.
But the latest blow suffered against the Highlanders felt different and Barrett told Stuff He has remained “optimistic” after the doctors refused to let him re-enter the game in Dunedin.
“I just got to myself,‘ hopefully I wake up the next day and I’ll just have a sore neck ’. Luckily that was the case, whereas it often isn’t the case. Here I am ready to go again. There is nothing to be concerned about from a head point of view, ”he added, reassuringly.
Blues coach Leon MacDonald will be rapt to have Barrett back in the mix ahead of a testing period that inside his side visit their two principal Kiwi rivals just six days apart. They meet the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday night (7.05pm) and then the title favorites of the Crusaders in Christchurch on the following Friday.
Barrett’s cool head, tactical nous and world-class playmaking will be vital for the Blues this week as they deal with the potential loss of star wing Caleb Clarke via suspension and a heavy recent workload that has asked a lot of stand-in No 10 Stephen Perofeta.
Macronald looks to extend a five-game win streak that has his team just a point behind the Crusaders in fourth spot on the overall standings .
“I’m back training anyway, and that’s where I want to be,” Barrett said. “I want to be training well, and be confident in doing that before I play. It’s a contact sport and I’ve got to be 110 per cent committed and confident I’m ready to go. I’ve got through a couple of days of training, so that’s a good sign. ”
Barrett confirmed scans had cleared him of any damage to his neck, which had been identified as the afflicted area producing the ongoing symptoms he had felt through December and January.
The Blues, already down All Blacks prop Nepo Laulala, will await Clarke’s fate at a Wednesday Sanzaar judiciary hearing following his red card against Moana Pasifika at Eden Park on Saturday. The big wing had jumped high to challenge a Tomasi Alosio chip-kick and clipped the player’s head with his hip.
Barrett described the incident as “rare and unfortunate” because “it wasn’t as clear-cut as a typical cleanout or tackle where there are no arms involved. A lot of us do feel for Caleb, but it is unfortunate for the player on the receiving end too. They are going through the legalities of that. ”