Beauden Barrett says he wants to be considered as a ‘specialist 10’ for the All Blacks after starring in the role for Suntory Sungoliath in Japan.
Nearing the end of his stint in Japan, Barrett told world media in a Zoom hook-up that he was confident that once he had returned to New Zealand and was through the quarantine process, he could be ready for Test rugby in the All Blacks’ 2021 campaign.
The All Blacks are currently scheduled to play Italy and Fiji mid-year, but the schedule is yet to be fully confirmed. They then play the Rugby Championship, and tour in the northern hemisphere later in the year.
Barrett has been utilised between Nos 10 and 15 at Test level, leading to plenty of debate as to where his best position could be.
However, in an interview with Stuff, Barrett explicitly said he wanted to be considered solely as a flyhalf going forward.
‘I’ve always wanted to be team first [but] I guess this 10-15 thing has been a system selection,’ Barrett told Stuff.
‘I’ve got no doubt I wasn’t the best out-and-out No 15 for the All Blacks, especially with Jordie [Barrett] and Damo [Damian McKenzie] around last year.
‘The way we wanted to play I could understand that and I bought into that. Going forward there’s no hiding from the fact that Damian and Jordie and Will [Jordan] are all playing great rugby.
‘Regardless of that I’m really enjoying my time playing No 10 here at Suntory. It’s given me that burning desire to be better than what I have been before in the All Blacks No 10 jersey.’
This will give All Blacks coach Ian Foster an interesting decision to make, as he has favoured Crusaders playmaker Richie Mo’unga as the team’s flyhalf, utilising him in a ‘dual-playmaker’ role with Barrett at fullback.
Barrett said fitness would not be an issue as there had been plenty of running around in the rugby he had played in Japan.
‘I’m sure that if I’m selected in this squad coming up, then through training in an All Blacks environment, I can get myself up to that Test match intensity,’ he added.
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