Fitzpatrick: Barrett undoubtedly best in the world

New Zealand great Sean Fitzpatrick said Beauden Barrett has "without question" been the best player in the world this year after the fly-half became the latest All Black to win the top award.

Barrett fought off competition from team-mate Dane Coles, England trio Owen Farrell, Billy Vunipola, Maro Itoje and Ireland's Jamie Heaslip to be named World Rugby Player of the Year on Sunday.

The playmaker has been outstanding for the world champions since he was handed the number 10 shirt, pulling the strings in a series win over Wales and also starring in the Rugby Championship.

Barrett kept Aaron Cruden out of the starting line-up as the All Blacks stretched their winning run to a world record 18 consecutive Tests, before they were beaten by Ireland in Chicago this month.

The mercurial 25-year-old also played an integral role in Hurricanes' Super Rugby triumph and former New Zealand captain Fitzpatrick is in no doubt he deserved to be named the best player on the planet.

Fitzpatrick told Omnisport: "He's played so very well, he's been without question for me the most influential player in world rugby this year.

"He's worked really hard at it, he's had to wait at times and played a lot of rugby off the bench - which he did very well when he got the chance.

"The way the All Blacks played against the Welsh, in the Rugby Championship and the Bledisloe Cup, a lot of that has to do with his success in the way he's driven the team around.

"He's had Dan Carter and Aaron Cruden in front of him. Aaron Cruden was the incumbent, got injured against the Welsh and Beauden Barrett came in and did the job brilliantly.

"He's a great talent and is fully deserving of the award."

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