Beauden Barrett grimaces when I ask a question he does not like. I am not asking him about the controversial new tackle laws, the threat of being targeted by England at Twickenham on Saturday or even whether a second defeat in five games would send the All Blacks into a tailspin.
Instead, on a quiet corner of a rugby field by the Thames, I am asking about how this tall, slight man feels about his status as perhaps world rugby’s only true superstar. Despite a third successive World Player of the Year award looking increasingly likely, Barrett seems uncomfortable with being singled out.
“When you mention that nomination I sort of get embarrassed,” he says. “It’s a team sport and we are in it together….