Super Rugby Pacific: Blues understudy Stephen Perofeta ready to take next step in Beauden Barrett's shoes

Stephen Perofeta has been keeping Beauden Barrett's seat warm at the Blues, but the All Blacks first-five himself feels his understudy is ready to take the next step.

Concussion, COVID-19 and All Blacks rest weeks have seen Perofeta regularly step into Barrett's No.10 jersey throughout the Super Rugby Pacific.

But Barrett firmly believes his fellow Taranaki player has shown he can foot it on the international stage. 

Disruption have become the norm for Barrett this season.

"It's just been great playing footy for the Blues," he said. "The boys are going really well and I'm enjoying it."

Head knocks are, seemingly in the rearview mirror.

"Gosh, it's that far behind me, honestly," he said. "The fact you mentioned it... that was ages ago." 

Regardless of the reason for Barrett's absence, Perofeta - 2021 NPC Player of the Year - has put his hand up to start at first-five. The 25-year-old has comfortably helped guide a Blues team two points clear at the top of the table, so is he a chance for the All Blacks?

"Absolutely,  he's certainly got it in him," insisted Barrett. "From what I've seen and his development in the last 12 months, he's certainly one of the best players in the comp at the moment."

Stephen Perofeta in action for the Blues
Stephen Perofeta in action for the Blues. Photo credit: Photosport

You'd think having Barrett as your teammate, Perofeta may have picked up a piece of advice or two, but the elder statesman is less sure how much he's actually helped.

"You'd have to ask him if he's learnt anything from me, but he's certainly asked questions," said Barrett.

Playing for the same NPC team helps that relationship.

"He's a Wanganui boy, I'm a 'Naki boy. Weboth play for the 'Naki so, yeah, we get on really well."

The amber-and-gold may soon have another All Black to boast about.

Join us at 7pm Saturday for live updates of the Blues v Queensland Reds Super Rugby Pacific clash