First-five Beauden Barrett has placed his vote of confidence in Hurricanes coach John Plumtree as Steve Hansen's potential successor for the All Blacks head coach job.
Plumtree has made no secret of his desire to take the reins when Hansen departs at the end of October's Rugby World Cup and Barrett believes he's a legitimate contender.
"He certainly has the potential," Barrett told Newshub. "He's a great coach from the number of years I've had with him, so I certainly wouldn't write him off."
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But the two-time World Rugby Player of the Year still has his sights set on sending the incumbent Hansen off on the highest note possible - holding the William Webb Ellis Cup aloft in Japan.
Barrett admitted the players had known for some time of Hansen's intentions and while he wasn't surprised at the time, this final season will carry a melancholic tinge to it.
"It's sad to see him go, but his legacy that he's going to leave behind is something he'll be very proud of.
"His record speaks for itself - what he's given to us players, what's he done for us. He's got the best out of us, so we can only thank him for that.
"He's certainly not done yet, we've got another season. He's still young too, so you never know where he's going to end up."
The 27-year-old says he'll always share a special bond with Hansen, as the coach who gave him his break as a starter, helping him shed his tag as an impact bench player.
"I guess the one thing Steve has with the players is he always backs whoever he puts out there, and he'll go out there and bat for us in the media, when things aren't going so well.
"As a player, it's reassuring to know that the coach has your back, really does care for you and wants the best from you. That's probably one of his biggest strengths."
For now, Barrett's focus is firmly on the fast-approaching Super Rugby campaign with the Hurricanes.
"There's huge excitement. Plum's obviously a passionate guy, and cares a lot about the team and the players.
"There's already been a lot of change around the park and the facilities. I think that's refreshing and we needed it."
While he's yet to join the squad for pre-season training, due to the extended break afforded as part of his All Blacks duties, Barrett insists he's kept his conditioning up to par via more unconventional methods.
Barrett will be a member of Team Rugby for the T20 Black Clash in Christchurch later this month and he's not taking any chances with his form.
"I actually had a hit out for my cricket club and roiled my arm over for nine overs. I felt worse than I had after any rugby game, but it was good to get a game in before the big one.
"It's good to mix it up in the summertime. You do get caught in a routine in your regular season, so it's good to change things up."