Robbie Deans has hinted that Berrick Barnes will wear the Wallaby No10 shirt when the Rugby Championship begins next month.
Barnes started all three summer Tests against Wales in the No10 jersey as the Wallabies whitewashed the Grand Slam Kings in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.
The Waratahs playmaker was in impressive form having been recalled to the line up after playing second fiddle to Quade Cooper until the end of the World Cup.
Cooper had been making headlines as Australia claimed a first Tri Nations crown in a decade last year but the mercurial Reds star suffered a serious knee injury in the final game of what was a disappointing World Cup for the 24-year-old.
With Cooper now fit again after a lengthy lay-off and Barnes, who took time off last year after a series of concussions, having experienced yet another knock to the head after a high tackle from his rival fly-half in a recent Super 15 fixture, media talk Down Under has been heavily focused on who will start at fly-half against the All Blacks in three weeks’ time.
And while team selection is still a long way off for the August 18 opener, head coach Deans has given a hefty indication that Barnes will be the man tasked with guiding the Wallabies past the World Champions in Sydney.
''Berrick is obviously the incumbent and played all the in-bound series and played well,'' said Deans, who had toyed with starting James O’Connor and Kurtley Beale at outside-half against the Welsh before the pair suffered injury setbacks.
''Quade's coming back and he's going to need to play some rugby. He hasn't played any rugby really over the last year.
''A lot (of my decision) will be influenced by what they do in training, without a doubt. It's important what they do here and particularly in that position in terms of leading your team around the paddock. We see them through preparation before the public see them in a game.''