A new sense of balance has helped Beauden Barrett crack New Zealand’s Bledisloe Cup starting team.
Barrett said a new regime of yoga and pilates had helped him improve his flexibility and his mentality, a pivotal change in a career-best year.
“There are other physical things but if you get your head right, your approach to the game that right balance is crucial,” he said.
“Working on my flexibility, that's been vital for me. I'm quite a stiff bloke so extra sessions here and there have certainly helped.
“It’s been great, it's more a recovery thing for me, it’s great for the mind as well as the body getting that right balance and I've seen great benefits from that.”
That balance will have its biggest hurdle this weekend, with Barrett wary of getting ahead of himself before the opening Bledisloe Test.
“I’ve always aspired to wear that number 10 jersey. In the past it's been coming off the bench, which I've been really happy to do and that was my role for the team and now it's an opportunity for me to play well and put my hand up,” he said.
“I’m really excited about it Saturday night, it can't come any quicker but I don't want to play the game too soon so I'm staying relaxed at this stage.”
His temperament in big games is no longer under question and it was his performance in the Super Rugby finals that All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said helped seal his playmaking spot.
“He’s just really been able to control the game in the bg occasions in the quarters, semis and finals of the Super competition,” he said.
“He just, in really trying conditions, he just controlled the tempo of the game. His kicking game was good, his running game was excellent. He’s just matured and getting better all the time.
Despite his red-hot form, Barrett said he was surprised to edge out Aaron Cruden for the pivot spot.
The 25-year-old will face off against Bernard Foley, who has started at 10 for the Wallabies in almost every Test for the past year, and Barrett said he was ready.
“Bernard’s a great all round player - he can run the ball, he's a great kicker and he's a great organiser as well,” he said.
“I'm excited about that challenge. It's something we don't look into too much is those personal battles so I'm sure he'll be focusing on running his team the best he can, just like me.”