Beauden Barrett has had an exceptional 2016. From helping the Hurricanes lift the Super Rugby trophy for the first time to a Test series win against Wales in the summer, the 25 year-old is in the prime of his young rugby career.
It is set to continue in a few day’s time as New Zealand kick off their bid for a fourth Rugby Championship title in five years against Australia, in Sydney on August 20th.
Barrett, who has already played almost 40 matches for the All Blacks, has had an outstanding season, showcasing his attacking prowess and searing pace, giving New Zealand coach Steve Hansen a selection dilemma ahead of the tournament.
Both Aaron Cruden and Lima Sopoaga have also been selected as fly-halves but it is Cruden who has kept the starting #10 jersey for the past four seasons, injury permitting.
Cruden has been selected after avoiding a serious neck injury in New Zealand’s second test win over Wales in the summer. Aptly, Barrett produced an excellent game as replacement for Cruden; one that all but won the series for the All Blacks.
While who gets that pivotal 10 shirt remains unsure, one thing that is certain is that Hansen has the envy of most international coaches in having this particular selection headache.
Who do you think will grab the starting fly-half spot for the All Blacks for the Rugby Championship? Can Hansen look past Barrett’s season this year?
New Zealand squad for the Rugby Championship:
Forwards: Dane Coles, Codie Taylor, Nathan Harris, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Owen Franks, Joe Moody, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Brodie Retallick, Luke Romano, Patrick Tuipulotu, Samuel Whitelock, Sam Cane, Elliot Dixon, Jerome Kaino, Kieran Read (capt), Ardie Savea, Liam Squire
Backs: Tawera Kerr-Barlow, TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Cruden, Lima Sopoaga, Ryan Crotty, Malakai Fekitoa, Israel Dagg, Waisake Naholo, Julian Savea, Ben Smith, Anton Leinert-Brown