After years of battling, Blues now have the Famous Five at No 10

Beauden Barrett. Photo: Photosport

For years the Blues have been paupers when it came to the No 10 jersey, yet now the addition of Dan Carter the Super Rugby club has endless riches in the crucial position.

In Carter and Beauden Barrett they have TWO first fives who have been World Rugby Player of the Year. Carter in 2005, 2012 and 2015, then Barrett in 2016 and 2017. That’s five times between them, and four times in six years.

But as the TV ads say, “wait there’s more”. In the now Covid-disrupted start to Super Rugby 2020 the Blues were second in the New Zealand conference when play was halted, and fourth overall.

They did that without Carter or Barrett, with coach Leon Macdonald handing the role mainly to Otere Black, who was in outstanding form, with Stephen Perofeta and Harry Plummer as backup.

Carter is in only as injury cover for Perofeta, so the fairytale return is not yet complete.

Black and Perofeta have been used this season in dual pivot roles by the Blues, with Plummer seeing action off the bench.

You don’t wind up near the top of the table if your key playmaker is not quality. So, at long last, the Blues have got it going on at No 10. Not since Carlos Spencer left 15 years ago have they had a world class No first five.

Let’s look at their array in the position.

Dan Carter, 38, 112 tests, 1598 test points, no games for the Blues.

No player has scored more points in test rugby. A three-time World Rugby Player of the Year, and regarded in some quarters as the best No 10 in history. He was man-of-the-match in the 2015 Rugby World Cup final, in which he scored 17 points, landing a crucial drop goal.

Carter spent 13 seasons with the Crusaders before playing overseas in France and Japan.

Beauden Barrett, 29, 83 tests, 649 test points, no games for the Blues.

Barrett won back-to-back World Rugby Player of the Year Awards in 2016 and 2017 and is fourth on the All Blacks all-time test points-scoring list. He has rapid acceleration, and a superb turn of pace.

He has been training the house down with the Blues, setting a record for completing the arduous ‘Bronco’ fitness test.

He switched to the Blues after 100 Super Rugby games for the Hurricanes, and scored the try that sealed the 2015 Rugby World Cup final at Twickenham.

Stephen Perofeta, 23, Blues caps 23, Blues points 120.

His injury has paved the way for Carter’s arrival. Perofeta played first class rugby for Wanganui while still a student at Wanganui Collegiate, scoring more than 100 points in 2015. He was named in the Heartland XV that year, scoring 58 points in three games.

He played in the Blues win over the British and Irish Lions in 2017, and in 2018 played 14 times for the Blues at first five-eighth as well as fullback. Injury in 2019 meant he missed the entire Super Rugby campaign.

Has been used at fullback this season by the Blues, his combination with Black proving a winner as the side surged into Super Rugby contention.

Otere Black, 25, Blues games 19, Blues points 97.

Manawatū born and raised, Otere made his first class debut for that province as a teenager in 2014, helping the Turbos win the championship and promotion to the premiership in 2015.

He received a call-up to the Hurricanes in 2015, making his Super Rugby debut when Barrett was injured.

A Māori All Black, Otere was part of the 2016 Super Rugby winning Hurricanes and played against the British and Irish Lions in 2017.

He played for the Blues at first five-eighth against the Crusaders in the opening round of the 2019 Super Rugby season, and went on to play 15 times for the club.

Handed the No 10 starting role in 2020, Black has dictated play well and his goalkicking has been on point. With Perofeta at fullback, their play has given the Blues a range of attacking options.

Harry Plummer, 21, Blues games 23, Blues points 56.

A former deputy head boy at St Peter’s College and Grammar premier club captain, Plummer has played No 10 for New Zealand Secondary Schools and New Zealand Under-20s.

He led the goal kicking statistics during the 2016 Auckland 1A 1st XV competition, and scored 22 individual points in the New Zealand Secondary Schools victory over Australia.

He was a steady hand for the Auckland NPC team which won the Mitre 10 Cup in 2018. He played in every game for the Blues last year, and is adept at keeping the scoreboard ticking over.

 

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