Beauden Barrett Rugby World Cup: Beauden Barrett checks his ego, all-in on the fallback option

Beauden Barrett Rugby World Cup: Beauden Barrett checks his ego, all-in on the fallback option

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Beauden Barrett Beauden Barrett: 'It's not an egotistical thing for me. It's get on with it and do what's best for the team.'

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Beauden Barrett: ‘It’s not an egotistical thing for me. It’s get on with it and do what’s best for the team.’

When Steve Hansen earlier this year slung an arm round the shoulder of the best rugby player on the planet and whispered in his ear he was going to move him away from the position where he was most comfortable – and lethal – well it’s fair to say Beauden Barrett needed a moment.

But it was just a moment. Nothing more. He digested, processed and reached an immediate decision. The back-to-back world player of the year in 2016 and ’17, the man who had changed the face of the No 10’s role with his run-and-gun brilliance, decided to check his ego at the door and buy into a shift he admits, just days from the kickoff of the All Blacks’ shot at Rugby World Cup history, is still not his preference.

Barrett may be a reluctant fullback but, paradoxically, he’s also an invested one. With that ego hanging on a hook outside the room, he has fully bought into his World Cup-year positional switch that allowed Hansen to introduce the fast-maturing Richie Mo’unga as starting No 10 and have dual playmakers on the park. It might be the roll of the dice that wins that Webb Ellis trophy – or it may not – but, regardless, Barrett has no complaints about his reassignment.

“It was something I embraced,” the 28-year-old toldStuffin the leadup to the World Cup opener. “It’s new and exciting. But we’ve seen the benefits [from the previous cycle] where I’ve come off the bench and finished the game at 15 in a double playmaker situation. Now there are two playmakers from the beginning.

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“I’m still figuring out how I can have the best impact in that position from a set-piece point of view … but I’m enjoying it. It isn’t my preferred position, but if it’s best for the All Blacks, I’m more than happy to do it.”

Barrett, who will go past the 80-cap mark in the pool stages in Japan, says he has heard the chat about being pushed out of his best position. He doesn’t buy it.

“This is a team sport and it’s the best thing for the team,” he says. “The 15 jersey is just as important as the 10 jersey. It’s not an egotistical thing for me. It’s get on with it, do what’s best for the team and support Steve and Fozzie (assistant coach Ian Foster) with the decision.”

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