Although the Blues mustered a mighty fight in Christchurch, they ultimately succumbed to the red and black machine, going down 26-15 in an enthralling clash.

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From fullback, many expected All Blacks‘ star Beauden Barrett to stamp his authority on the match for the Blues, but he failed to take the spotlight and wasn’t able to get involved as much from the back, while Leon MacDonald stuck with Otere Black and then Harry Plummer at 10.

It was Richie Mo’unga who stole the show with outstanding goal kicking and smart play, utilising a short kick-off that he regathered that became a pivotal momentum swing in the game.

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Aotearoa Rugby Pod | Episode 3

The showing cemented many fans view that Richie Mo’unga is indeed New Zealand’s best first five eighth and left the door open on Barrett’s best position.

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Many fans still believe Barrett is a first five and being played out of position, hurting his chances of influencing the match more, but there are rising numbers of believers in Barrett as an impact player.

Some fans even suggested that a return to the All Blacks bench would suit Barrett, where he flourished as an impact player for his first few years of test rugby, and played a pivotal role at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

One fan wrote ‘he’s never going to be a great test 10, and he’s not going to be our best fullback by the next World Cup’ but that he is ‘by far’ the best bench player.

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One fans Twitter poll asking where Beauden Barrett would play in the All Blacks next test had nearly 20% of the voters saying he would be on the bench, showing a stark rise in those who are in the ‘Barrett impact player’ camp.

Even Stuart Barnes, the former British & Irish Lion turned rugby pundit, claimed Barrett risked “falling from the pinnacle to the All Blacks’ bench”.

“New Zealand rugby is in danger of turning one of the most original talents in the history of the sort into a liability,” wrote Barnes.

With Jordie Barrett, Damian McKenzie, Will Jordan, and David Havili all in the fullback mix, the position is crowded with emerging talent who will likely be peaking at the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Beauden Barrett will be 32-years-old which is one year younger than Ben Smith was at the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Smith had a magic year with the All Blacks as a 32-year-old in 2018 before losing his position before the start of the World Cup tournament to Sevu Reece.

Smith was already the oldest fullback for the All Blacks in the professional era, outlasting centurion Mils Muliaina who was 31 when he lost his position to Israel Dagg.

If Barrett is to make the next World Cup as a fullback, he will be battling father time to stay on top as the number one option.

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