Ahead of his big chance at No10 tomorrow, Beauden Barrett was deliberately economical with his words.

It's apparent he'd rather not spend too much time labouring the point that he has a golden opportunity to showcase his stunning range of skills in the cherished role of chief All Blacks play-maker and send a reminder to the selectors that he's ready to be their regular first-five.

Clearly, given the test in Dunedin will be only his ninth start in 39 tests, wearing the No10 is a big deal. It's his long-term goal to establish himself as a world class first-five, to add to his universally accepted ability to be a world class impact player.

Understandably, he's even less interested in explaining how starting differs from his usual role on the bench. It's fairly obvious. He'll be responsible for driving the All Blacks into the right places and calling the right moves from the start. It will be his job to provide the tactical authority, to compute the information fed to him and make sense of it all.


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That comes with a different set of pressures. The responsibility can be a burden as much as it can be invigorating and masterminding a cohesive team performance is not the same as being asked to have a bearing on the shape of a game off the bench.

Rather than talk, Barrett presumably wants to deliver with his actions. If he can play the way he wants, he won't necessarily change the first-five pecking order. But he will provide more assurance to the selectors that he's developing his work to the extent that he's more than capable of replacing Aaron Cruden if required.

"I have played all those games when Beauden has been at No 10," says halfback Aaron Smith. "I always like playing with Beaudy, he's exciting to play with and you always get that feeling something is going to happen.

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"He's not bad at turning a nothing into something and you need that because defences are such a big part of test matches these days that you need guys out there like that."

The hard and fast track at Forsyth Barr Stadium should suit Barrett's running game but he's not likely to overplay his hand in that one facet. He says his intention is: "To play what I see. This time round, it is an opportunity to start but not much changes for me. It is not a lot different to what I have normally prepared for. Any time I get on, I try to make an impact."

Barrett didn't set out to be an impact player. He wants as much game time as possible and knows his best chance of achieving that is to play with the accuracy, cohesion and diversity with which the All Blacks' game plan requires of their first-five.