Fretting about Beauden Barrett is yet to infiltrate the All Blacks.

From battles to break down rush defence to apparent goal kicking struggles, Barrett has endured criticism this season.

His disappointing home display in New Plymouth against the Pumas last weekend left the door further ajar for comparisons to last year - and how he has not reached the same heights.

Barrett, in his first season guiding the All Blacks from first five-eighth, set the bar exceedingly high in 2016 on his way to being recognised as world player of the year.


This season has been far more challenging.

Collectively, the All Blacks continue to work their way through combating defensive line speed.

Senior players and management have been at pains to point out this quest relies on cumulative parts coming together rather than sitting solely on the playmaker's shoulders.

Still, some believe Barrett's natural skills are more suited to fullback where backfield freedom would allow his instinctive nature and pace to thrive.

This theory, though, dismisses the notion that you want your best players touching the ball as much as possible, and also overlooks how influential he was from No 10 last year.

As far as the All Blacks are concerned, Barrett remains in the infancy of career.

He's only 26, and learning to overcome different scenarios will only enhance his development.

"He's in a great spot. He's leading really well off the park. He's playing well," All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster said.

"He's got a job to do and he does that. He's still by world standards a reasonably young man.

"I think he's done a fantastic job running our team around.

"Is he perfect? No. Is every moment going to be brilliant? No.

"He's learning the art of 10 and all the adjustments he has to make - his depth, his own skills, decisions and listening.

"Yep, we all love the magical moments so maybe it was just Vaea [Fifita's] turn on Saturday and Beauden had a night off."

Goal kicking is the main lightning rod when it comes to Barrett.

After shanking all three conversions at Yarrow Stadium, once again his ability off the tee was widely questioned.

Damian McKenzie, who the All Blacks say is carrying a leg issue which prevents him from kicking at present, and Jordie Barrett, out after shoulder surgery, offer long-term alternatives.

But goal kicking is a responsibility Barrett wants to retain.

"It's always going to be a talking point with any team - a lot of spotlight goes on the goal kickers," Barrett told the Herald last week.

"I feel I'm in a groove. I'm just trusting my routine and preparation. You enjoy it when they go over a bit more but the key is not to get caught up in it too much."

Stats compiled by Radio Sport's Nigel Yalden offer some perspective.

In Barrett's last 10 tests - dating back to the loss to Ireland in Chicago - he has kicked at 80 per cent (45/56). That is around where Dan Carter finished his illustrious test career, and well above Barrett's international average of 71 per cent (126/176).

New Zealand rugby historian Geoff Miller also notes Barrett sits third in the all-time test try-scoring stakes for first-fives (16 from 24 starts at No 10) behind Stephen Larkham (20 from 84) and Carter (24 from 94).

Miller also said Barrett averages three conversions per test - more than anyone in world rugby and more than Carter and Grant Fox (2.6 per test).

So while debate continues around when Barrett will next set the world alight, the All Blacks remain content.

"He missed three kicks five metres in from the sideline and he's not the only kicker to ever do that," Foster said.

"Overall we're really happy with his technique so he's got no reason to get down. It was just one of those nights.

"He'll probably blame his mum's scones on Wednesday night.

"It's not the easiest position but I think he's doing a great job and so did Lima [Sopoaga] in the weekend.

"He probably had the most influential time in the black jersey in terms of the way he guided the team around.

"It's not just one person, there's a couple of people working hard in that position and hopefully, we get better and better."