If the battle between Beauden Barrett and Damian McKenzie showed us anything on Friday night, it was that McKenzie has a lot to learn before being considered as an test-level first five-eighth.
The Hurricanes and Chiefs locked horns in a scratchy, defence-heavy match in Wellington which offered little in the way of offensive prowess.
However, when it came down to it, Barrett's game was streets ahead of his counterpart as he led the Wellington club to a 25-13 win. While McKenzie tried to force his way into the action, but ultimately didn't make much on an impact. It was fullback Charlie Ngatai and winger Solomon Alaimalo who looked the most likely to cause damage to the Hurricanes.
McKenzie carried the ball 16 times, beating six defenders and breaking the line once. While he managed to get the ball in his hands, he wasn't able to manufacture anything with it, instead forcing a few ill-advised passes and giving ball away.
Late in the match, with the Chiefs looking to make a comeback, the No10 wasn't on the same page as some of his team mates on a couple of plays – running poor lines or
On the opposite side of the pitch, Barrett allowed the game to come to him. It was the Hurricanes No10 that sparked their second-half point-scoring outburst when he picked up an errant pass and went on to score in the corner. He had a his fingerprints on the offence elsewhere too, with a try assist and two clean breaks.
Barrett also played a smart kicking game. When his side weren't able to make ground running the ball, Barrett put his boot to it to clear the pressure on his side. Clearing kicks have been a concern for the Chiefs this season, with the young McKenzie still growing into his role.
At times, McKenzie can be at fault of playing the game as if he's still at fullback - looking for the dazzling running plays and playing off the cuff when it might pay for him to take a smarter approach to the game.
There's no doubt McKenzie will get there. He has the tools and the talent, it's just a matter of reading the game and knowing when and how to execute. The match up between the two first five-eighths was one a number of Kiwi fans were looking forward too, but Barrett stood up and showed why he's the All Blacks' first choice.