If it was understandable that Ardie Savea chose to only extend his contract by one year this week, it is more of a mystery as to why Jordie Barrett has made the same short term move.

His star shines as brightly as ever from an All Blacks' perspective and while he didn't start in the third test against France after being picked at fullback in the first two, he remains an integral part of the national side's back three mix.

Unless he suffers a spectacular collapse in form, he's likely to be either on the bench or starting at fullback for the All Blacks through to the World Cup.

Regardless of what happens with the coaching set up after the tournament, it would be staggering if Barrett, who is still only 21, isn't considered a vital part of the All Blacks' longer term future.

Advertisement

Which begs the question – if his test future is relatively certain and he loves playing for the Hurricanes, why not make a longer commitment? Why only sign for one year?

Conspiracies have been stoked on the back of this decision, with two main theories surfacing.

The first is that he is leaving his options open to attract offshore suitors as he's seriously considering shifting overseas after the World Cup.

The other is that he's becoming increasingly frustrated at being used and widely seen as a fullback when in fact his natural and preferred position is second-five.

That's where he played much of his school rugby and where he featured for the New Zealand Under-20 team.

Jordie Barrett of the Hurricanes. Photo / Getty
Jordie Barrett of the Hurricanes. Photo / Getty

Has he, therefore, held off making a longer term commitment with the Hurricanes because he's determined to play at No 12 after the World Cup and can't be sure they are the club where he could do that?

These aren't outlandish ideas but they are not thought to be factors behind his decision to only nudge his contract out by 12 months.

The truth is less sinister with a more practical foundation driving it. New Zealand Rugby wanted Barrett to make a long term commitment.

Advertisement

They are believed to have offered him a five-year deal, the value of which was based on the fact he's a 21-year-old, with four test caps and in his second Super Rugby campaign.

At the moment he's a promising but largely unproven, probable regular in the All Blacks match day 23.

But where will he be in the overall scheme of things in 2020 after the World Cup. By then, he might have played 20 tests and proven without doubt he's an incredibly calm, disciplined and versatile footballer who can play across the backline and kick goals.

Not only that, but by 2020 Ben Smith may have moved on. Waisake Naholo might have moved on by then, as well. So too Ryan Crotty, possibly Sonny Bill Williams will have retired and post-World Cup Barrett will most likely be a starter either at fullback or even at second-five.

His value to the All Blacks could be considerably higher. And that is highly likely to be the reason Barrett has only signed for one more year.

It would have been a crazy move for him to have locked himself into a long term contract now when he is probably going to be worth significantly more in 12 months.

That will be the time for him to re-negotiate and make a longer commitment to NZR and the Hurricanes.

And it most likely will be the Hurricanes where he remains for he has made it clear he can't envision himself ever playing for anyone else in Super Rugby.

If he does want to play regularly at No 12 for the All Blacks he's going to have to back himself to be good enough to play regularly in that position at Super Rugby so the prospect of Ngani Laumape still being at the Hurricanes in 2020 is unlikely to have had any bearing on his thinking.