The Wallabies have revealed that former All Blacks assistant coach Mick Byrne, now with the Australians, predicted two years ago that Beauden Barrett would start the big World Cup games at fullback.
As the countdown to the first Bledisloe Cup test in Perth continues, the home side has not been shy about commenting on the All Blacks' decision to start both Barrett and Richie Mo'unga. The dual playmakers tactic was first seen in the recent draw against the Springboks in Wellington and is predicted to remain at Optus Stadium on Saturday.
Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper yesterday said Steve Hansen's men "pose some different threats" and today utility back Dane Haylett-Petty turned the scrutiny up slightly higher when revealing Byrne's prediction.
"I think they probably need to give it a go," Haylett-Petty said. "You don't want to be testing it too much [at the World Cup] - I know they have a big pool game against South Africa. Interestingly enough, probably two years ago, Mick Byrne who obviously spent a lot of time with the All Blacks, said Barrett would play 15 at the World Cup, which I found really surprising. Now a couple of months out, he's having a run around there."
Asked what the All Blacks wanted from the dual playmakers, a method often employed by the Wallabies via two of Kurtley Beale, Quade Cooper and Bernard Foley, Haylett-Petty replied: "Probably the combination with Mo'unga - the two ball players playing both sides of the ruck.
"They're both very good ball players, both very dangerous. And I suppose Barrett's pace to open up games on turnovers and on the counter - I think that's what they'll be looking for."
The All Blacks will reveal their selection on Thursday for the sold-out test at the new stadium, recently judged the world's most beautiful sporting facility. Their line-up for the recent test against the Boks was highly anticipated and this one will perhaps be even more so because it will give a firm indication of what the selectors feel is their best match-day squad ahead of the World Cup.
As for Haylett-Petty, a fullback or wing, he said he wasn't sure where coach Michael Cheika would put him on Saturday; but is likely to start for his ability under the high ball.
"I haven't chatted to him too much about it," he said of Cheika. "There are pros and cons of playing on the wing. I'm trying to work on the skills for both positions because you never know where you're going to be needed."
There is a buzz about this test building ahead of this first test between the nations in Western Australia, and not just because it will be played in front of the largest crowd – more than 60,000 – at the new stadium.
The Wallabies must win to have any chance of regaining the Bledisloe Cup, which the All Blacks have held since 2003, and the return match is at Eden Park. Australia must win both to reclaim it.
"Obviously we want to break that [drought] this year, but at the end of the year, there's obviously a huge goal for us as well. A big focus for us is building some momentum," Haylett-Petty said. "We've changed a few things, there's a lot of competition in the group and players are pushing for spots … the exciting thing is we're starting to see things we're working on coming through in the games."
Lock Adam Coleman, likely to return after a long-term injury, was asked whether the All Blacks would be dangerous after a rusty couple of tests against the Pumas and Boks.
"The ABs are a quality side, everybody knows that," he said.