Every New Zealand kid running around the backyard with a rugby ball in hand dreams of one day being an All Black. Thoughts of captaining your country generally come much later - if ever.

Beauden Barrett has, remarkably, never captained any team previously. Not in the junior ranks; first XV, Taranaki, or the Hurricanes. Now he will lead a development group of All Blacks out against the Barbarians at Twickenham on Sunday (NZT).

As first five-eighth, Barrett has always been a key decision-maker and driver. But stepping in for Kieran Read presents a totally different scenario in his 60th outing for the All Blacks.

"This is well beyond my wildest imagination," Barrett said. "It was a dream for me as a youngster to play for the All Blacks but I never thought of captaining them. It's a good challenge for me and a different way to how I prepare for a game.


"You don't want to overthink it it's just about living in the moment. It's like preparing for anything, the more you think about it the more anxious you get. I've really enjoyed this week.

"I don't expect it to be prefect it's my first week in this position. Learning from this will be a good thing for me. I do have respect for all the captains out there."

Little fazes Barrett. His feet are firmly on the ground but he has needed to adjust the way he usually addresses the team. He is used to presenting the attack, whereas this week has required him to look at the full, big picture.

Don't expect him to be the type of captain that shouts and fires up at team-mates. He's much more likely to deliver instructions in a calm manner. And he knows if he plays well, the rest should take care of itself.

He is, of course, not alone in leading this team. Jerome Kaino spoke during a team huddle at the captain's walkthrough. Others will step up to show the way for the three rookies - Matt Duffie, Asafo Aumua and Tim Perry - off the bench.

"I'm not really a motivational person but that's when my lieutenant Sam Cane will come in handy. If he needs to say something he says it and he's been good like that.

"The best thing about this week is there's a few new guys getting an opportunity. That adds to the excitement and to do it at a place like Twickenham is pretty special.

"It's unique turning up here and not playing England I guess we experienced that during the World Cup. Any occasion you get to play at Twickenham it's a great one. We're aware of who our opponents are and how familiar we are with them. That's just going to add to the spectacle... there should be a few words out there no doubt."


From a personal performance perspective, Barrett is itching to return after missing the last defeat against the Wallabies and not being involved for the past five weeks due to concussion.

"It was a waiting game early on but as I started to feel good I started to plan and this was a game I targeted."

Under Barrett's leadership, don't expect the All Blacks to take many, if any, shots at goal.

"I'm not expecting them to... depending on how we're going I don't think that's our mindset particularly early but we'll have to wait and see."