Barrett knows he must earn the No 10 jersey

MARC HINTON IN DUNEDIN
Last updated 16:06 10/06/2014
Beauden Barrett
Photosport
BIDING HIS TIME: Beauden Barrett remains patient in his quest to pull on the All Blacks No 10 jersey for the first time.

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The kid not only has nerves of steel but the patience of a saint, with All Blacks impact man Beauden Barrett declaring he still has to earn the No 10 jersey he covets so much.

Barrett has yet to start a test at first five-eighths for the All Blacks, earning 15 of his 17 caps with bench roles and twice being chosen to wear the No 15 jersey. Last weekend, in the nailbiting 20-15 squeaker over England at Eden Park, he played the last 26 minutes at fullback.

But first five is clearly his best position and after a standout Super Rugby campaign for the Hurricanes, following a series of game-changing exploits off the All Black bench last year, he admits it's where he feels he can best contribute.

The problem is, even with Dan Carter still out of the picture, he has Aaron Cruden ahead on the pecking order. And Barrett is well aware that the All Blacks coaches don't change their hierarchy unless they have pretty compelling reasons.

There are plenty in New Zealand who believe the 23-year-old Taranaki tyro has earned a shot at the starting assignment, and a mixed bag from Aaron Cruden in last week's series opener will have done little to quell those theories.

But with the coaches on the record saying they're keen to give the men from Eden Park a chance to atone for a shoddy performance, Barrett today appeared resigned to another bench role under the roof of Forsyth Barr Stadium.

''It would be great [to start], I've had a whole season in the Hurricanes No 10 jersey, and it would be good to carry that form on in the black jersey. But they don't give those jerseys away too easily, so I've got to earn it,'' Barrett said following a testing training session in wintry conditions in the south.

''But any time at first five, even if it's off the bench, will be cherished.''

Barrett made his mark on Saturday night, if not for his polished play deputising for the crocked Israeel Dagg, certainly for his audacious call that inspired Cruden to tap a late penalty.

He stood by the decision to turn down a potential match-winning shot at goal to roll the dice.

''I thought Ben Smith was on my outside, and didn't realise he was cramping up. It was just myself and Victor [Vito]. If Bender was available we probably would have scored in the corner, but it worked out pretty well. It was instinct, and we're told to play what we see and back ourselves.''

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Barrett is not concerned by being pigeon-holed as an impact man at test level, but there's no doubt he's seen as very much the two in a one-two punch in the pivot.

''If I'm No 2 then I've got to earn that starting position, and play well if I get that time.''

Barrett's chance will come, if not this week, probably next. And as he showed last Saturday he'll back himself and his uncanny instincts.

 


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