October 24, 2018 / 6:35 AM / 24 days ago

Barrett hints at sabbatical in Japan after 2019 World Cup

FILE PHOTO - Rugby Union - 2018 Bledisloe Cup Rugby Championship - Australia v New Zealand - Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand - August 25, 2018 - New Zealand's Beauden Barrett runs with the ball. REUTERS/Ross Setford

TOKYO (Reuters) - New Zealand fly half Beauden Barrett has hinted that he may take a playing sabbatical in Japan following the 2019 World Cup.

Speaking in Tokyo ahead of the third Bledisloe Cup clash with Australia, Barrett suggested he could be open to returning to Japan after competing for the All Blacks in next year’s showpiece event.

“There is a lot to like about Japan,” the two-time world player of the year told reporters.

“What I can say is there is good open communication with the coaches, my management and NZR (New Zealand Rugby) and I am happy that at the right time I will make the right decision.”

In the past, NZR has allowed sabbaticals to players like Richie McCaw and Dan Carter.

With the country hosting the World Cup, there will be no domestic Top League rugby competition in Japan in 2019 and it remains to be seen what structure Japanese rugby takes the following year.

The 27-year-old Hurricanes player is hoping to lead New Zealand to a 3-0 sweep of Australia with victory in the third Bledisloe Cup test in Yokohama on Saturday.

Reporting by Jack Tarrant; editing by Sudipto Ganguly

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