Damian McKenzie better watch out Beauden Barrett is vying for the All Blacks fly-half jersey in 2024.
The 32-year-old is presently playing in Japan, but he will return to New Zealand after the season to prepare for the July Test series.
Following the Rugby World Cup, there will be an inevitable revamp, with several senior players leaving, as well as a new head coach in Scott Robertson.
Barrett, on the other hand, will be a fixture in the lineup after signing a contract that will keep him there until the end of 2027.
He has shown his commitment to New Zealand Rugby and Robertson by agreeing to remain until the conclusion of the next World Cup.
In return, the experienced playmaker is hoping to get the nod in the key number 10 role, ahead of McKenzie, who has also expressed a firm desire to feature there.
Over the past two years, Barrett has primarily played at full-back, with Richie Mo’unga the preferred pivot before and during the 2023 global tournament.
The former Hurricanes man is therefore looking to return to that slot and be selected over McKenzie when England visit later this year.
“This time every year I say I want to play 10,” Barrett told The Platform. “That’s what the coaches also agree on and you get to the time when it comes to selection and somehow I slip back to 15, and I accept that
“I want to be playing for the All Blacks, I want to be playing first five-eighth.”
Although Barrett wants the 10 jersey, he understands if Robertson gives it to someone else.
As a result, he may continue to play full-back or be demoted to the bench, but the playmaker is content as long as he contributes to the team’s success.
“If it means I’m playing first five-eighth, full-back, coming off the bench, starting, I just want to be contributing to the All Blacks,” he told the media.
“Of course, I want to start, but as we have seen in test matches, the final 20 minutes are essential. Some teams, such as South Africa, take pride in their ability to finish games.
“I’m not saying I want to come off the bench but I know how influential a full squad is and the importance of the 23.”
Barrett is now out of action after suffering an injury while playing in Japan, but it is only a temporary setback, and he intends to return in March.
“The focus is on this season. Obviously, I feel fine physically. I’m positive, and I’m training and playing to the best of my abilities,” he continued.
“I’m in contact with Scotty Hansen and DMac (McKenzie) about certain game stuff, sharing ideas, and so on.
“It’s an exciting year, with a lot of rugby to play, and for me right now, it’s just about getting my body right.” “I know that if my body is right, I’m driven to be there, and I just need to focus on playing well.”