Is this the year Jordie Barrett achieves rugby acceptance?

Jordie Barrett is tackled during the Hurricanes' win over the Jaguares in Buenos Aires, Argentina, February 8, 2020 ALEJANDRO PAGNI/AFP via Getty Images

Jordie Barrett has claims to be one of New Zealand's most gifted sporting athletes. Period. And, yet, his quest for elite rugby acceptance goes on this season.

Barrett is a freakiest talent, of that there can be no doubt, but his swift rise to the All Blacks has accompanied polarising views to date.

Before we examine why, let's layout Barrett's remarkable all-round sporting ability.

On the cricket pitch Barrett flummoxed former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming, a veteran of 111 tests, no less, with a peachy slower-ball yorker in the Team Rugby versus Team Cricket exhibition match at Napier's McLean Park last month.

In the next over, he claimed the wicket of former Black Caps wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi. Neither dismissal was a fluke.

In the same match last year Barrett played a match-winning role with willow in hand - scoring 42 not out from 26 balls.

Multi-talented, indeed.

Growing up he took the new ball for Central Districts, captaining their under-19 team, and after being placed on standby for the New Zealand under-19 World Cup side, he had a clear cricketing pathway.

Barrett also won a high school rugby league title in Taranaki and like elder brother, Beauden, and so many other All Blacks backs, he is a handy golfer in addition to being comfortable in virtually every rugby backline position - from first-five out.

Last week we witnessed Barrett's latest feat: receiving an NFL kicking contract.

No, not actually. But you wouldn't put it past him pulling off similar field-goal attempts on the grand American stage.

Barrett's 63-metre penalty in the surprise Hurricanes victory over the Jaguares in Buenos Aires, which broke Dan Carter's 14-year record for New Zealand's longest successful kick, must have scouts taking note.

Carter achieved his nudge at altitude in Pretoria, where rugby balls fly like sweetly-struck golfing drives.

With no assistance, Barrett's flew well over the dead-ball line to extend his astonishing effort closer to 70m.

Once again, this was no fluke. Barrett's long-range goal kicking prowess was one of the main reasons he made the All Blacks bench for the World Cup knockout matches in Japan last year.

This season he's put his 1.96m frame and long leavers to work by honing his goal kicking in preparation to assume that mantle for the Hurricanes.

New Zealanders aren't prone to going gaga over any penalty or dropped goal attempts unless they out and out win games of significance - a la Carter at the 2015 World Cup.

Kiwis much prefer dazzling steps, offloads, pace or raw power.

Barrett's huge hoof was an exception to the rule as it hit the headlines of every major media outlet.

There was, however, much more to his performance against the Jaguares which suggested he is ready to take responsibility after the departure of his influential brother to the Blues this season.

Barrett's positional play from fullback, his best role, was superb. So, too, his high ball catching, general kicking and efforts to lead the kick chase defence. He also pulled off a crucial try-saving tackle in the left-hand corner on Jaguares wing Emiliano Boffelli, and kicked 12 points.

In short, Barrett was intent and accurate in everything he did which took pressure off Jackson Garden-Bachop and allowed him to play a steady hand from first-five.

World-class skill Barrett clearly does not lack, but it's consistency and temperament at Test level that's seen his All Blacks worth questioned at times.

Prior to this season he's been prone to the odd rash moment such as the wild quick-lineout intercept he threw against the Springboks in Wellington last year.

You didn't have to listen hard to hear some of the outcry after New Zealand's World Cup semifinal defeat to England question why Barrett was preferred over assured veteran Ben Smith on the bench.

It didn't help, either, that Smith performed brilliantly the following week in his final match for the All Blacks as they smacked Wales in the playoff for bronze.

Barrett has played 17 Tests but it's easy to forget he's 22-years-old and, therefore, can't be expected to be finished product.

This won't be an easy season for him or the Hurricanes after mass offseason disruption included their head coach John Plumtree joining the All Blacks, the defection of Beauden Barrett and losing Ardie Savea to injury for the majority of the season.

But on an individual level, it could be a defining one. Adversity breeds character after all.

Beating the Jaguares, last year's finalists, in Argentina is no easy feat. After the Hurricanes were humbled 27-0 in their opening match in Cape Town, Barrett was among those to step up and immediately respond.

Could this be the year he matures? The Hurricanes certainly need him to command a leadership role and emerge from Beauden's shadow.

And while Smith has departed to France, Damian McKenzie's presence leaves Barrett fighting for a spot in the All Blacks' 23.

Based on Barrett's performance against the Jaguares, All Blacks coach Ian Foster will be sitting back saying more of the same, please.