The All Blacks might be losing some of their biggest names after their Rugby World Cup triumph, but Beauden Barrett's match-sealing try in the dying minutes of the final is a peek into the team's future, says veteran commentator Keith Quinn.
The victory against Australia in yesterday's World Cup final was the perfect send-off for a number of key All Blacks, including Dan Carter, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock, Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith, while captain Richie McCaw is widely tipped to step down after the team return to New Zealand on Wednesday.
The All Blacks' opponents will be glad they don't have to face these players on the international stage any more, but Keith Quinn told Morning Report today that Barrett's try in the dying minutes of the final sent a whole new message about the team's future.
"I thought the Barrett try was a wee peek into the future, when you're talking about the World Cup in Japan in four years' time. Dan Carter is gone, and left with a brilliant performance, but there was Barrett, chasing through the ball, not losing his head, keeping control. He knew the ball was going to bounce up into his hands - it did - and he scored."
Barrett's skills were evident from an early age, according to his college coach Tim Stuck.
Mr Stuck told Morning Report Barrett was already a gifted footballer when he coached him back in 2009, with a strong skill set.
"I saw something very special in him and thought he could kick on to the next level."
He said Barrett had put "a hell of a lot of work" into building up those skills.
"He was one who always had a rugby ball in his hands, but it's the guys who have got that work ethic and a little special extra quality who make it. He deserves to be there."
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said he believe the team was in a good position despite the loss of the key players.
He said players like Sam Whitelock, Ben Smith, Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane and Aaron Smith should lead the side over the next four years.
"There are a stack of guys who are on 30 or 40 test matches that are young. So there are plenty of guys there who have been through a lot of the things we have been through in the past three or four years."
'This was the fun part'
The All Blacks may be already facing the future, but they can still celebrate their recent victories tonight, with the World Rugby Awards being held today in London. Mr Quinn said Carter was the obvious choice for the player of the year award after the all Blacks' "massive" win.
"There are five other excellent nominations, but I think it's got to be Dan Carter. He's won it twice before, so it should be a three-peat for Dan Carter."
Sam Cane told RNZ's Alex Coogan-Reeves overnight that "this was the fun part", after the team secured the victory.
Keven Mealamu, the veteran front rower who played his last game in the black jersey on Sunday, told RNZ the tournament had been a blast but he was looking forward life beyond the All Blacks.
"I've been able to do everything I want to do in this game and I've been blessed to have the opportunity. I've been doing this since I was 20 and it's been amazing, but I am looking forward to the next chapter in my life, and for what's ahead."