A number of New Zealand sporting stars have used the skills that they have learnt playing AFL to propel them to greater heights.
In our first Cross Coders feature, we look at how Beauden Barrett nearly gave up playing Rugby to switch to AFL.
The All Blacks and Blues playmaker, whose blinding speed and pinpoint boot are traits prized in AFL, may have had a very different sporting career if he had made the decision to move from New Zealand in 2010.
A brother at Barrett’s New Plymouth school, Francis Douglas Memorial, had contacts in De La Salle in Melbourne, the same school that produced AFL luminaries Kevin Sheedy, Jack Dyer, Barrie Breen, and both John Kennedy senior and junior, and a move was set up.
In 2009, Barrett represented the Waikato Thunder in the AFL New Zealand NPC competition where he impressed the AFL New Zealand National selectors.
“Before I chose to play Sevens, I was contemplating coming over to give AFL a crack,
“I never really cracked it as a schoolboy for rugby, and I didn’t know what I was going to do, I was going to come here to study.
“It was through brother Peter Smyth who had contacts in Melbourne, and there was an opportunity.
“It seriously crossed my mind.”
At the last minute, Barrett took up an offer to play for the New Zealand Sevens side, and after two tournaments he was offered a contract by the Hurricanes.
Had he defected to Melbourne, Barrett could have been watching the World Cup final in Australia instead of putting the final nail in their campaign with a blistering chase and score from a kick ahead by Ben Smith, sealing back-to-back crowns for the All Blacks.
“I never thought I’d play for the All Blacks, so I guess anything could have been possible,” Barrett said of being a potential AFL star.
“All I do know is that when you get that self-belief, and realise that you can do it, it’s pretty exciting.
“If you put in the hard work the world is your oyster.”