All change or just a natural progression for a 22-year-old with special talents? Jordie Barrett is at first-five rather than fullback or wing for the All Blacks against Namibia on Sunday, but the truth is nothing much will change for him.

He's used to standing at first receiver anyway – the All Blacks' confirmed goal of playing with twin playmakers means No 10s and No 15s are virtually interchangeable these days and certainly Richie Mo'unga spends a lot of time at the back on defence in order to run the ball back and change the point of attack.

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Barrett the younger's biggest challenge is to have the confidence and courage of his convictions to order his much older and more experienced teammates around the field. The other, if you can call it that, is knowing where to stand off set pieces and with the notoriously talkative and well-organised Aaron Smith inside him at halfback, and roommate big brother Beauden a near ever-present off the pitch, he won't lack for advice there.

Really it comes down to this: every All Black back is expected to be a playmaker, everyone is expected to make good decisions with the ball, to recognise space and mismatches on defence and ruthlessly exploit it.


It's how they train and how they expect to win this World Cup and it's why Jordie, who has covered first-five for the Hurricanes over the last couple of years, will be expected to seamlessly step up despite only finding out he would be the team's chief navigator this morning.

"I've bounced in and out of positions at training a little bit," Jordie said. Later he added: "In our game plan and structure 15 often plays a 10 role within our phase play. It's just our set piece and little things around timing that I'll have to get used to."

Jordie Barrett has been named to play first-five for the All Blacks against Namibia. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Jordie Barrett has been named to play first-five for the All Blacks against Namibia. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The All Blacks' trainings are so intense these days and so game-specific, that seeing attacking opportunities will come as second nature to Jordie at Tokyo Stadium and he has shown a calmness over the past three tests to suggest that he will do an excellent job in the absence of Mo'unga and Beauden, both of whom are likely to play Italy in Toyota Stadium.

"To be fair to him, in his last three tests he's been pretty good with his patience and control," coach Steve Hansen said. "He's played extremely well, I think. He's aware of what he needs to do and to fix any problem you have as a human being you've got to be aware of it first and foremost and to have the structures in place to improve the skillset you want. He's been working on that and coming into No 10 will further enhance that.

"You've seen him, he's got plenty of swagger, that boy, he's not short of it. I don't think you can mistake swagger or confidence, for us older people – that's what swagger is isn't it – for arrogance. He's not an arrogant boy, he's a humble kid.

"When you've got twin drivers they're not your first and second five-eighths, they're you're first-five and fullback. He's been doing a lot of what we've been doing at training anyway. But he's not necessarily run at No 10 prior to this morning."

Interestingly, Hansen has told Aaron Smith and fellow halfback Brad Weber to be fully aware of Jordie's authority.

"Your No 10 is your main computer so if he decides to do something with the ball then give it to him. When nines start making the choice you end up with chaos."


The All Blacks have embraced a type of chaos theory here in Japan, with their use of the ball and focus on all-out attack, but it's controlled chaos. They were never troubled against Canada but had to rein things in a little against the Boks first up before they took control of themselves and the game and setting the pace is the job in front of Jordie.

It shouldn't be a difficult one, but, after all three Barrett boys scored against the Canadians, it's a significant one nonetheless for him and his family.

"It's a pretty special jersey … it's one I'm very grateful for and I'll treasure it," he said.