Beauden Barrett may be on a break from New Zealand rugby but it will still be very much on his mind while he plays in Japan this year.
Barrett spoke at a media conference in Japan yesterday after joining Top League club Suntory Sungoliath for his rugby sabbatical.
While impressing local media with some Japanese, Barrett also attempted to catch All Blacks coach Ian Foster’s attention with some other comments, saying he still has his eyes on playing at first-five for New Zealand.
During last year’s unique rugby season, Barrett spent most of his time at fullback for both the Blues and All Blacks with Crusaders playmaker Richie Mo’unga instead handed the black No.10 jersey late in the year.
Barrett said he hopes to spend time at first-five in Japan to put his case forward to Foster and the selectors.
"I have got a little bit of work to do in terms of slotting back into that role (first-five)," Barrett said.
"I think one would expect me to play a little more at number 10 and that is certainly something I am aspiring to do back in New Zealand for the All Blacks."
Barrett’s move to Tokyo sees him join multiple high-profile Kiwis in the competition including TJ Perenara, Brodie Retallick, Kieran Read and Ben Smith.
There was the option to take his sabbatical in France as well – where the 2023 Rugby World Cup will be held – but Barrett chose Japan with the global tournament in mind.
"It isn't Japan versus France at all. It was about 2023," Barrett said.
"I am really happy about the decision that I made."