If there is one thing that should be certain ahead of tomorrows All Black squad announcement, it is that Beauden Barrett will make his first test start at first five.
For many, this should have happened well before now.
Ahead of the English home series back in June, a lot of opinion was weighed in on wether or not the All Black selectors should have started Beauden Barrett in that very first test. Many felt, without doubting Aaron Cruden’s obvious skill, that the lack of rugby he had had during the Super Rugby season due to injury was cause for the selectors to finally give Barrett a go as a starter.
Barrett has started a test match for the All Blacks once, but that was at fullback.
The Hurricanes playmaker had been due to have his first test start at number 10 in the third English test at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton, but an injury to Conrad Smith saw the inclusion of Malakai Fekitoa. Not wanting to make two changes to the backline, Barrett was put onto the bench yet again, as Cruden was given the start in an unplanned move by selectors.
So, even though Barrett was named as a first five starter, it never eventuated.
In the 21 tests Barrett has played in his already successful international career, 19 of those have been from the bench. One of the starts was at full back, and the other which had been planned and was at first five, never came to be.
With all that is right about giving Barrett a start this weekend in Napier, the impact that this young playmaker from New Plymouth has had in the All Blacks side after coming off the bench cannot be overlooked. Barrett is arguably the one player on the reserves list that impacts a game the most.
But the All Black selectors need to look ahead to the future with their team selection tomorrow morning.
The way that Barrett has been maturing as a rugby player, many would predict that come Rugby World Cup time next year, Barrett would be the ideal starter, not Aaron Cruden, and health wise certainly not Daniel Carter.
Given Carter’s current comeback from injury, the overseas games against Argentina and the Springboks at the end of September could see Carter be given his earned return All Black run on then, and you’d also have to think that from a commercial standpoint, the game against USA in Chicago in early November would suit a Carter start as well.
So, this weekend against Argentina, in front of what will be a sell out crowd in Napier, it is logical to start Beauden Barrett both for future planning, experiment, but also the fact that this young talent has more than earned it as well.