Beauden Barrett is aiming to stay in contention for the All Blacks' No 10 jersey as he prepares to start his stint in Japan.
Barrett has largely been used at fullback for the All Blacks since the 2019 Rugby World Cup, with Richie Mo'unga playing at pivot in the dual playmaker system, while Barrett also wore the 15 jersey for most of his season with the Blues, as Otere Black took the reins at first-five.
However, Barrett wore the No 10 jersey when unveiled as Suntory Sungoliath's star signing in Tokyo yesterday and is expecting more gametime there while playing in the Japanese Top League season, which starts next week.
"I have got a little bit of work to do in terms of slotting back into that role. One would expect me to play a little more at No 10 and that is certainly something I am aspiring to do back in New Zealand for the All Blacks," Barrett said.
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Barrett took up the overseas sabbatical clause in his contract with New Zealand Rugby, allowing him to join Suntory for the 2021 Top League season, which begins next week.
He will skip the Super Rugby Aotearoa and Transtasman competitions with the Blues, and explained that he picked Japan over other top suitors, including clubs in France, because it fit in better with his plans for making the 2023 World Cup.
"It isn't Japan versus France at all. It was about 2023," said Barrett. "I am really happy about the decision that I made."
Barrett was also asked to show off any Japanese phrases he had learned since his arrival late last year, and offered a few to the enjoyment of the Japanese media.
"Gosh, I have been put on the spot," he said. "I promise you I am better (at Japanese) than what I am presenting right now."