While 2009 forced the All Blacks into learning and improving a range of skills, the change in law interpretations has switched the emphasis again.

Everyone has to be able to handle the basics of their role but now the players selected are those who offer the most appropriate extras.

The pecking order has changed in a number of key positions.

Blindside Flanker
2009 Pecking Order:
* Jerome Kaino
* Adam Thomson
* Kieran Read

2010 Pecking Order:
* Jerome Kaino
* Victor Vito
* Liam Messam

Last year, the foraging skills of Adam Thomson were his ticket to All Black selection. When the ball was kept in hand, there were opportunities to steal it on the ground. Aggression and technique were everything at the tackled ball. Thomson became expert at getting himself in the right place and knowing when to pounce. He was, possibly, even better than McCaw at forcing turnovers.

But now the game has all but eliminated the turnover opportunity, with quick release of the tackler non-negotiable. The rules are skewed in favour of the attacking side - which means the key role of a blindside is to carry the ball for big gains; drive men back in the tackle and be able to keep it alive through strong support running.

That's tailor-made for the combative and athletic Jerome Kaino and Victor Vito. Liam Messam, too, is equipped for that game, although his emphasis is on the continuity side and having the skills to play more expansively.

Thomson has been sent back to provincial rugby and to sevens, to see if he can convert himself into a ball carrier.

2009 Pecking Order:
* Jimmy Cowan
* Piri Weepu
* Andy Ellis

2010 Pecking Order
* Jimmy Cowan
* Piri Weepu
* Alby Mathewson

On the face of it, not much has changed.

Cowan and Weepu are still the No 1 and No 2.Yet, analysis of how both men have played so far this season for the All Blacks reveals they have had to evolve.

Cowan, particularly in the first three tests, ran more than he previously has. He attacked the fringes and was looking to snipe, to get beyond the gain line and turn the ball back to a supporting forward. He has taken on greater tactical responsibility - albeit not effectively at Eden Park - and tried to be more of a strategic influence.

Weepu, too, has been more willing to go forward first rather than look up, shuffle sideways and then pass.

The All Black coaches want their halfback to carry a perceived threat to take some of the pressure off Carter; to force defences to man up around the ruck.

That's why Alby Mathewson was called in as cover for Cowan last week. Mathewson has an electric break and is an excellent runner. That makes him more valuable than the likes of Andy Ellis and Brendon Leonard.

The pressure will stay on Cowan and Weepu to continue improving the attacking threat they pose or the likes of Mathewson (maybe also Kahn Fotuali'i) will be given opportunities to see if they can offer what is required.

Second Five
2009 Pecking Order:
* Ma'a Nonu
* Luke McAlister
* Stephen Donald

2010 Pecking Order:
* Ma'a Nonu
* Benson Stanley
* Richard Kahui

Nonu remains the second five of preference because he is the most complete footballer of the contending options.

His power and direct running have long been obvious and his main offering. But since 2008 and particularly last year, Nonu expanded his portfolio - he developed a range of kicking options; he became more willing to stand as a first receiver and assess what was on and he has developed his distribution to the point where he is one of the best long passers in the game.

In short, he had To learn how to play as a genuine five-eighth. Those skills remain relevant and beneficial but as Graham Henry has noted: "There is a need to be more direct now at second five and Ma'a can be very direct."

With the ball easier to retain at the tackle, a muscular second five who can cross the advantage line and present a target in the midfield has real value again. Last week, when the Boks delayed naming their side, it wasn't to check on the fitness of the locks - it was to see what the All Blacks did at second five.

If Benson Stanley had played, the Boks would have been tempted to play with the slight but elusive Juan de Jongh to see if he could dance his way up the middle. When Nonu was named, Wynand Olivier was put in at 12 to see if he could bring down Nonu before he built momentum.

That's the game at No 12 now- direct running and big tackling with tactical directors not so much in demand.