Mo'unga and Barrett enjoying healthy All Blacks rivalry

This weekend marks the start of a new All Black season, but with it comes what has become almost an age-old question, who will start in the number 10 jersey?

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The Crusaders first-five said he and Beauden Barrett were supportive of one another's desire to start for the All Blacks. Source: 1 NEWS

The battle between Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo'unga for the coveted jersey was the hot topic of conversation at the All Blacks press conference this afternoon, with Mo'unga's stellar Super Rugby campaign potentially enough to usurp Barrett in their head-to-head contest for a starting role.

Barrett, now an 88-Test veteran, held the starting jersey since Dan Carter's retirement in 2015, before the period where former All Blacks coach Steve Hansen chose to play Barrett at fullback and Mo'unga at first-five in a dual-playmaker partnership.

It is the kind of rivalry and clash of egos that can break a side, but Mo'unga assured reporters the pair had a "healthy relationship".

"I think it’s healthy for the team, it’s healthy for us," Mo'unga said of the competition with Barrett.

"It’s a big challenge and to know that someone like Baz is wanting the same jersey as me, it’s motivating, it’s inspiring. It’s not an unhealthy challenge, it’s one that’s going to be better for the team and whoever dons the jersey, I’ll be happy for him and he’ll be happy for me."

Mo'unga admitted filling the boots of the two-time World Player of the Year was not an easy job, but was confident of putting in a quality performance no matter what role he was given.

"It definitely puts a lot of pressure on me because we all know what he’s capable of. If I’m wearing the 10 jersey I don’t want to let him down as well as the country.

"Ten is such a crucial position, it’s the driver of the team. It’s a position where you’ve got to take lead – we both have different ways of doing that – but I’m sure whoever gets to don the 10 jersey will do a great job.

"Whatever my role is, whether it’s in the 10 or not, I’ll do whatever is best for the team."

Mo'unga's Crusaders teammate Codie Taylor said the coaches had a "tough job" deciding between the pair, and praised Mo'unga for his performances in Super Rugby this season.

"I think you see it every week what he does on the park," Taylor said.

"Both [Mo'unga and Barrett] are two of the most hard-working people in preparation for a game.

"It's a tough job for the coaches but at the same time those two have a really good relationship."