All Blacks star Beauden Barrett concedes he doesn’t know what number will be on his back for this year’s international season.
For the better part of the last four years, Barrett’s position has been one of the biggest headaches for the All Blacks to contend with.
After winning World Rugby’s player of the year award – twice – playing as a No.10, the emergence of Richie Mo’unga saw Barrett shift to fullback to accommodate both players at once in the now maligned ‘dual playmaker’ strategy.
But Ian Foster’s ascension to All Blacks coach saw Barrett return to No.10 in 2021, before returning to fullback again last year when younger brother Jordie moved into midfield to leave the side without a recognised fullback.
This year, Barrett has played the majority of his Super Rugby Pacific campaign for the Blues at first-five.
Listed alongside Mo’unga and Damian McKenzie as a No.10 in the All Blacks’ first squad of the year, Barrett’s name was also put forward when Foster was asked about the absence of Shaun Stevenson, arguably the competition’s form fullback, from his initial 36 players.
As the All Blacks assembled in Tauranga for their first camp of the year, Barrett was asked about where he expects to play this year.
But for the 32-year-old, any positional security will be established as the All Blacks continue to build towards their first test of the year, away to Argentina in Mendoza on July 9.
“I think that’s what these camps are about,” Barrett told Newshub. “It’s about moving on, getting on the same page with a new coaching group.
“The new players, the combinations, all of that, the strategy – I’m sure a lot of that will come out of the next two weeks before we get on the plane and head away to Argentina.”
Sunday’s squad naming also saw Barrett and Aaron Smith named for what could be their final year in the All Blacks.
Both players will head to Japan in 2024, taking up deals in League One clubs.
And building towards what should also be the pair’s final Rugby World Cup, Barrett says the pair are enjoying their time together.
“We’ve had a lot of happy, great memories,” Barrett continued. “We’ve been through a lot together.
“We were both named in the same series. It’s been great to see how he’s developed as a player and a family man.
“We’re not getting too emotional about this being significant or the last or anything like that.
“It’s just about enjoying each other’s company and hopefully doing a job in the black jersey.”