After excellent Super Rugby campaigns at fullback from Damian McKenzie, Will Jordan and Jordie Barrett, there was plenty of debate among fans and pundits as to who should don the No 15 jersey for the All Blacks.
Given the opportunity, Barrett put those debates to bed.
The 24-year-old had always shown his potential, but the recent Rugby Championship showed his development at the top level as he played with confidence and proved his ability not to overplay his hand – an area of his game that was lacking in previous years.
"He's just grown his understanding of the game," All Blacks coach Ian Foster said of Barrett.
"He's working hard on his decision making; he's always been confident in his physicality and how he approaches the game in that sense. He's just a young guy who is now progressing with his decision making and his reading, particularly of his defence lines, and he's been really improved in that area.
"In terms of the attacking game, his counter attack stuff has been pretty influential and we're excited by that, but there still some other little areas. I just think he's calmer, he's clearer and that comes with time in the saddle."
Barrett started behind McKenzie on the depth chart to begin the Rugby Championship, and his first start – coming in the second game of the tournament – was ended early due to a red card which was later expunged. In the four games following, the young Hurricanes star impressed in all areas, with his decision-making deep in his own territory and running display – both with ball in hand and in support – standing out in his strong performances.
Ending the Championship among the leaders in carries, clean breaks, defenders beaten, offloads and points scored, Barrett proved just how much of a difference-maker he can be.
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While seeming to set himself out from the rest, Foster said it has probably been good for Barrett to have such high level of competition for the role in the squad.
Competition will no doubt only increase heading into the Northern Tour. With Richie Mo'unga having come back into the All Blacks' camp for the final match of the Rugby Championship to give the side another option at first-five, Beauden Barrett could also be a consideration to play at fullback.
The Northern Tour will see the All Blacks play against the United States this weekend, before heading to Europe to play against Wales, Italy, Ireland and France.
While it would be a surprise to see Jordie Barrett start against the US as Foster has indicated he hoped to use the test as a way to get some game time for players who needed it, Barrett's recent showing against the territory-focused approach of South Africa put him in good stead ahead of the All Blacks' first taste of Northern Hemisphere rugby since 2019.
"In the last two or three years, he's had a lot of learning opportunities, he's grown," Foster said of Barrett. "Sometimes when you don't get the jersey for a few weeks, it does focus you a bit more on what you've got to get right, and he's certainly responded."