As the All Blacks get set for the first test match of the year against Tonga on Saturday, a fierce internal rivalry is set to resume.
Richie Mo'unga and Beauden Barrett are once again in a head-to-head battle for the No. 10 jersey, with Barrett making it clear he no longer sees himself as a dual playmaker in the fullback position.
It's a two-horse race only one can win, with Mo'unga revealing it's sparked some honest conversations between the pair this week.
The narrative is one the pair can't ignore, and they're certainly not shying away from it.
"We're open about it," says Mo'unga. "We address the elephant in the room."
That elephant hasn't been there for some time, with Ian Foster, and previously, Sir Steve Hansen, opting for Mo'unga at first-five and Barrett at fullback.
But Barrett has made it clear that's not his preferred spot and Mo'unga thinks any competition for positions is healthy, even if it's his.
"It's a big challenge and to know I've got someone like [Barrett] who's wanting the same jersey as me," adds Mo'unga. "It's motivating, it's inspiring."
On form, it'd be hard to argue Mo'unga isn't in the box seat.
He's taken his game to new heights this season, starring for the Crusaders to guide them to a fifth straight title, and that form carried over to Super Rugby Trans-Tasman.
And regardless of whether that helps keep him in the No. 10 jersey, Mo'unga is content.
"I'd be happy for him, he'd be happy for me and if I'm not putting that jersey on, then what's my role," insists Mo'unga.
Hooker Codie Taylor knows the All Blacks will benefit regardless who starts.
"Those boys have a really good relationship and they share everything, and if it means it's going make this team better, they'll put their egos aside to make sure we get the result," says Taylor.
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