Beauden Barrett doesn't want to be an All Blacks super sub forever - Ian Foster

It's a bittersweet start to the Test year for Beauden Barrrett, who's preparing to come off the All Blacks bench for the 29th time in his career.

The All Blacks take on the Welsh on Saturday at Eden Park, Auckland. Source: 1 NEWS

Before going any further let's remember that any opportunity to play for the All Blacks is an honour. Just ask the hundreds of players toiling away in first class rugby, then ask the thousands of grass roots players dreaming of their chance.

But after four years as an All Black, Barrett has managed just eight starts in 36 appearances. It must be frustrating, even if he won't admit it. 

Source: Getty

In fact that number could very well be six if Aaron Cruden hadn't been kicked off the two-Test tour to Argentina and South Africa in 2014.

Ironically it's the Chiefs star who will again keep Barrett out of the starting lineup when they play Wales in the first of three Tests this weekend. 

There's no doubting the 25-year-old's talent. Quicker than any other first-five in the world he's consistently one of the highest point-scorers in Super Rugby and currently sits second behind Richie Mo'unga. 

But the reality is that he's become so good at winning games for the All Blacks off the bench that there's no reason to change the formula. Just think back to the joy when he blitzed Adam Ashley-Cooper and David Pocock to secure the Webb Ellis Cup last November. 

When asked if Barrett wanted to shake the 'super sub' tag, All Blacks assistant Ian Foster said: "He probably does and he doesn't. It's not bad being called a world class impact player, is it?

"We think he's outstanding in terms of changing the game and that's one title he can bank away and say he's got that really good."

Barrett faces stiff competition from Cruden, who started his All Black career two years earlier but has played just one more Test (37) than the former due to injury.

Cruden's class is well-known after he was called in for Dan Carter at the 2011 World Cup, calmly slotting a dropped goal in their semifinal win over Australia - a huge statement from a 22-year-old who had played just six Tests.

Don't forget Cruden also led the Chiefs to their first ever Super Rugby title and then repeated the feat a year later. 

Then there's Lima Sopoaga, who comes into the All Blacks as the least experienced first-five option but has the best goal-kicking percentage. He possesses a running game similar to Barrett but can also direct play in the way that Cruden can. 

It's a blessing for New Zealand Rugby but another headache for Barrett.

"So now [Barrett] wants to be world class in terms of a starting role and that's fine," added Foster. "We want him to drive for that, too. But the fact is that he's really good at both.

"Is that going to pidgeonhole him? No, it's not. 

"But it does mean that he's got a role in this group, if he's not starting, that's pretty powerful and whichever way we go this year he's going to get opportunities in both, I would imagine. 

"So he's just got to keep doing what he's doing."

It will be interesting to see when those opportunities do eventually come for Barrett, who would be in the starting lineup for any other national team. But for now it seems likely that he'll have to wait for injuries or a serious form slump from his two All Blacks team-mates.

And even if he's never considered as a long-term option in the All Blacks No 10 jersey, he's already cemented his place in rugby folklore for tries like the one that sealed the World Cup final win over Australia. 

It'd be hard to find a player in this country who wouldn't die happy with that kind of reputation. 

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