Beauden Barrett is poised to cap off a remarkable month if he can steer the All Blacks to Bledisloe Cup victory over the Wallabies in front of a sold-out crowd at his home venue on Saturday night.
Fresh from steering the Hurricanes to a maiden Super Rugby crown at Westpac Stadium earlier in August, Barrett looms as one of the key men for New Zealand in the second Bledisloe Cup Test against Australia.
The 25-year-old is in career-best form following his stunning season for the Hurricanes and his recent elevation into the All Blacks No.10 jersey ahead of Aaron Cruden, showing just how far he’s come with a blistering performance in their 42-8 demolition of the Wallabies in Sydney last weekend.
But skipper Kieran Read reckons Barrett has also added other less tangible qualities to his arsenal.
“He’s really stepped up his leadership this year, certainly,” Read said.
“He’s got the confidence in his own game which helps.
“He can really be confident in giving messages and he’s really driving the team around well at the moment.
“We’ve got two great 10s – three, I guess, if guys like Lima (Sopoaga) are missing out. We’re pretty blessed.”
Barrett’s battle with Quade Cooper, who returns to the Wallabies five-eighth position after a year-long absence, could well prove decisive.
“He’s a fantastic player,” Cooper said.
“He’s had a great run this season, it’s been building for a few years but as a No.10 it was great to watch his rise and to see the football that they’re playing.
“That’s what I love doing, love watching, so credit to him. I’m looking forward to playing against him.”