Barrett's All Blacks status gets upgraded
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: In the absence of regular skipper Kieran Read, All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has given the captaincy responsibility to the formidable Beauden Barrett.
The 26-year-old missed the All Blacks' 18-23 defeat to Australia on October 21 due to a head-knock but made a full recovery just in time for the London trip.
Barrett, who is the regular vice-captain, would be fulfilling Read's captaincy directions for the tour during the first week of the November Test.
The reality is that Barrett is unlikely to be asked to start at Twickenham, with Hansen looking to give as many of his non-test regulars an opportunity to press their claims and soak up some international experience.
"We had a meeting before we left with everybody and Reado [Read] set out the expectations he wanted for the week," said coach Steve Hansen in London.
"Beaudy [Barrett] is the vice-captain, so he'll drive the team from a captain's point of view this week, but whether he plays or not we'll wait and see. He's the head leader at the moment in the group on the ground."
"I know the side won't lack motivation and so long as management facilitate a week that allows them to express themselves I think you'll find that they prepare well," he said.
"One of the aims of this tour is to play rugby we're proud of and part of that is winning but we've also got to keep re-establishing the process of how we do that. It's the first one [game], so it's a great opportunity to get the ball rolling,"
In terms of Barrett's captaincy, Hansen revealed that not much would change for the No.10, given the great leadership qualities he already possessed.
"He's got the number 10 on his back which is the main computer in a team," Hansen said.
"Flyhalves, in particular, Barrett, tend to touch the ball more than anybody else and make more decisions than anybody else.
"Instead of talking to Reado [Read] he'll just talk to himself," the mentor added.
Barrett echoed Hansen's sentiments by adopting very much a business as usual mindset when he spoke about his leadership upgrade in London.
"Steve gave me the heads-up, and it's exciting," he said. "But the team hasn't been named so I don't know where that fits into the whole match day 15 or 23.
"I'll just continue to do what I do as player preparing for a test match,"