All Black Jordie Barrett is enjoying the assurance of being able to prepare for a season to play second five-eighths for the Hurricanes and to apply lessons from last season.
Barrett had always wanted to play in the midfield, but coaches had been reluctant to move him from fullback. But situations with the Hurricanes and All Blacks meant chances arose, and he had taken them.
Hurricanes coach Jason Holland told Barrett that second five-eighths was where he thought he fitted best in the side.
"I enjoyed my stint there last year, and I guess it is a continuation from the end of the All Blacks tour last year and I fitted in here [Hurricanes pre-season] nicely at second five-eighths, so I guess that is good for continuity."
Playing fullback was still an option for the Hurricanes and All Blacks if needed.
"I'm always trying to evolve my game, and no one is ever the finished product. I'm very much new to second five-eighths at this level. It does take some adjustment, especially little movements and timings that are so different to fullback.
"You have got to have your finger on the pulse both sides of the ball, off the tail of the lineout set-piece wise, attack and defence. [It's] the same with scrums, so you've got to be fully connected with defensive aspects and attacking into that transition zone where you can't hide from the game.
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"It's exciting and exactly why I like playing there because you're always involved."
Barrett said he had plenty of support within the Hurricanes to develop his game in the role, with Holland and Tyler Bleyandaal being five-eighths, while former All Black Cory Jane was also of assistance. He also communicated regularly with his former Francis Douglas Memorial College Tim Stark.
Barrett said the lessons he took from exposure in the position at Test level last year were not so much from the more significant match-defining moments but the little things where he had more control.
"The beauty of 12 is that you get so many opportunities in a game that you can control that, so I've broken my game down a lot over the summer and, hopefully, I can bring those to the fore this year."
There were many aspects to work on, but, for example, the laws now on tackle height and carry height meant it was essential to get into strong positions and also bring the combative aspect he likes into his game.
Barrett said there was no hiding from the fact it is a Rugby World Cup year, and he said every player involved in the disappointments of 2019 had stored that hurt away, and it had been driving them since.
"So, there is an eye towards that at the end of the year, but here in Wellington, with a new facility, a great group of boys, great coaches, I'm excited about the Super season ahead."
As a goal-kicker, he thought the only moments of concern with the law variation being applied for conversions, especially, was if injured or involved in a length-of-the-field try and only having a minute to recover to take the shot at goal.
Players have been calling for the changes to be applied for some time. It would be more exciting for all involved and reward fitter players, especially in the latter stages of each half.