Competition at first five-eighth at record levels for All Blacks

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James Mortimer     24 Sep 2013     Getty Images

Aaron Cruden now has Beauden Barrett and Tom Taylor in the squad, a healthy place to be in and a far cry from previous times where Carter’s absence would be considered a critical blow.

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen said that Cruden would be in contention as the squad’s incumbent number ten, although he did agree that Barrett put in an eye catching performance when coming off the bench against the Springboks.

Hansen did feel that all three number tens had proved they had the goods to be there.

“He (Cruden) is definitely available to start,” he said.

“When you’re the senior guy, in this case Cruuds (Cruden) is the senior guy, we’ve always shown that you’ve earned the right (to take the jersey back from injury).

“You don’t lose anything in being injured; you just give another player an opportunity.”

“Beauden has proved he can be there, and Tom Taylor has proved he has in a cameo performance.”

Barrett, who again will play off the bench at the least in the upcoming two Tests admitted that it was different having such competition for the 10 jersey.

“It's great that there's so many 10s around pushing each other and getting the best out of each other,” he said.

“I suppose it's been a position where for a while behind DC a few years ago there was a bit of a gap there.”

The All Blacks resume training tomorrow with Monday and Tuesday being spent to recover and adjust to the local time zones.

While the squad has had some rare down time to wonder the streets of Buenos Aires before heading to La Plata, it will be back to business quickly as the All Blacks get ready for their two matches against Los Pumas and the Springboks in a fortnight.

Tom Taylor, a late call up thanks to Carter’s injury, was taking it in before settling down to training. With the injuries at ten during recent times, one would not be surprised if the young Cantabrian could play a part in the coming weeks.

“Certainly I wouldn't have expected to be here at the start of the year,” he said.

“So I'm just soaking it up really and looking forward to getting into the week, and experiencing a new place at the same time."