Ian Foster says it is a ‘two-horse race’ between Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo’unga for the All Blacks No 10 jersey this season.
Barrett played fullback for the Blues for a large part of the recently concluded domestic season and only reverted to flyhalf towards the back end of the Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign.
Meanwhile, Mo’unga played every match at flyhalf and was at the heart of the Crusaders’ title charge.
Both players have been selected as flyhalves in two respective squads for the much-anticipated North vs South inter-island clash, with Barrett set to represent North Island and Mo’unga to play for South Island.
Foster, who is in his first season as All Blacks head coach, says he is excited by the prospect of the two facings off against each other, especially since they are in a race to win the No 10 All Blacks jersey for the upcoming Test season.
‘They are two outstanding players who are proven at international level,’ said Foster. ‘It’s been well documented Beaudy has played a lot of rugby at 15, but he’s gone into 10 the last few weeks. We see this as a chance for him to get another game under his belt and get used to playing there again.
‘It’s going to be an interesting contest. We’ve got high regard for both and Beaudy has still got some flexibility around the positional thing. The good thing is we’ve got two exceptional rugby players that people are talking about. We’ve got some good choices going forward.’
The 55-year-old also reiterated that in the national context he considers Barrett as a flyhalf exclusively despite the player’s experience at fullback.
‘I’ve always said I think he’s a 10 who plays 15, and that really hasn’t changed,’ Foster added.
‘He’s had a pretty rich history in the black jersey as a starting 10. He had a rich history for the first four years as an impact player, coming off the bench and playing 10 and 15, and last year we gave him another job based on a revised gameplan that we felt utilised both of them really effectively.’
Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images