Oh brother! A fourth Barrett could have made All Blacks

Beauden Barrett (R) lines up for the All Blacks alongside brothers Scott (C) and Jordie (L) (CHARLY TRIBALLEAU)
Beauden Barrett (R) lines up for the All Blacks alongside brothers Scott (C) and Jordie (L) (CHARLY TRIBALLEAU)

A trio of Barrett brothers will play for New Zealand at the Rugby World Cup, but according to Beauden Barrett, a fourth sibling had also been on course to wear the famous All Blacks jersey until injury prematurely ended his career.

The Barretts are the only trio of brothers to have started a Test rugby match together for New Zealand.

Playmaker Beauden, 32, is the full-back or outside-half with a razor-sharp eye for a gap, who has twice been named World Player of the Year.

Jordie, 26, has nailed down a starting berth at centre after switching from full-back.

Lock Scott, 29, was having an outstanding season until he was sent off for two yellow cards in the record 35-7 defeat to South Africa in a warm-up game.

They are three of eight siblings -- five boys, three girls -- who grew up on the family's dairy farm near Rahotu in the North Island's Taranaki province.

Beauden Barrett says their eldest sibling Kane was paving a path to the All Blacks until he suffered a career-ending concussion in 2014.

As a teenager, Kane, now 33, achieved the rare feat of making the New Zealand Secondary Schools team a year early and was then made captain the following season.

As a loose forward or lock, he went on to play Super Rugby for the Auckland Blues until his career was halted by a concussion during a training session. Kane now runs a successful agriculture business.

"I was lucky to play all my rugby growing up with Kane," Beauden Barrett told AFP. "He had to give it up due to concussion. Goodness knows where he could have ended up."

- Sporting genes -

Beauden is adamant his elder brother could have made the All Blacks. "No question, because I know how skillful and talented he was."

A fifth brother, Blake, also made more than 100 appearances for their local rugby club Coastal.

Strong sports genes run through the family.

Mum Robyn shone at basketball and netball in her youth. Dad Kevin played provincial rugby for Taranaki and the Wellington Hurricanes in the early years of Super Rugby.

When he hung up his boots in the 1990s, Kevin Barrett said he wanted to breed some All Blacks. He was true to his word.

Between them, Beauden, Jordie and Scott Barrett have played more than 200 Tests for New Zealand.

What on earth did their parents feed them growing up?

"Lots of organic dairy milk," laughed Beauden.

"Quite a lot of what we ate was off the farm, but mum's supermarket trolleys were always stacked."

The home-grown talent ensured impromptu games in the Barretts' backyard had a competitive edge.

"It was a lot of fun, playing tackle rugby with cousins, siblings or friends," said Beauden.

"We had a floodlit back lawn. We were always out there kicking a ball around."

Beauden is diplomatic about who was the most skillful.

"Everyone had their own little array of skills, whether it was a funky step or a razzly pass."

He appreciates having Scott and Jordie alongside him in the All Blacks lineup.

"The moments after the game are probably the most satisfying," he said.

"When everything goes according to plan, enjoying a beer with my brothers is the ultimate.

"But also being able to travel with your siblings, for so-called work, is a privileged position and being able to see different parts of the world."

The brothers have different ways of coping with pre-Test nerves.

"I know Scott gets super tense 24 hours before a game. As opposed to Jordie, who is very rarely worked up about anything," said Beauden.

"I do like to have my own space, but it's good to have some company as well."

- Role models -

Back in Taranaki, Tim Stuck is the principal at Francis Douglas Memorial College, where all five Barrett brothers attended school.

He agrees with Beauden that Kane could have made the All Blacks.

"He certainly had the skill set to be able go further. I wouldn't have counted him out, that's for sure," Stuck told AFP.

Stuck coached all five siblings in the school rugby team.

"Beauden was an amazingly gifted footballer, even back then," said Stuck.

"Just about every move we had was designed to enable him to score as many tries as possible.

"Scott Barrett was kicking goals as a lock, then you have Jordie, who at 15 or so, was sending cross-field kicks to guys in the corner."

Stuck was also head coach of the Taranaki side which held the provincial Ranfurly Shield trophy in 2020 with Jordie and Beauden in the team.

The brothers regularly return to the school to coach rugby, Stuck said.

"Having those guys walk our school halls and muck around with a ball in our yard is great role-modelling for our students."