Brad Weber (Hawke's Bay)

Will the All Blacks take a third first five-eighth to the World Cup? With Damian McKenzie unavailable, it's a valid question.

Should the All Blacks not want to take a punt on the youthful Josh Ioane, Weber becomes the obvious choice for the third halfback spot in the World Cup squad. The form halfback of Super Rugby this year, Weber also flashed his ability to cover at first five-eighth.

Having Weber run out for Hawke's Bay in the NPC this weekend might be about getting some game time in his legs. He hasn't played since the ABs' win in Argentina last month.

Atunaisa Moli (Tasman)

After an impressive outing from Nepo Laulala in the second Bledisloe Cup test, Atu Moli finds himself in the position of needing to impress the All Blacks selectors.

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Moli is one of five props competing for three spots in the World Cup squad behind incumbent pair Owen Franks and Joe Moody, who were both expected to assume their usual positions in the front row when the All Blacks descend on Japan for the World Cup.

Angus Ta'avao's ability to play on both sides of the scrum is an added bonus for him, however the All Blacks have mentioned in the past they would like to see Moli be able to play at loosehead as well as his preferred position of tighthead.

This will be another opportunity for him to show he's at the level the All Blacks selectors need him to be for the World Cup.

Josh Ioane (Otago)

Josh Ioane of the All Blacks during a training session. Photo / Photosport
Josh Ioane of the All Blacks during a training session. Photo / Photosport

The All Blacks might choose to take only two first five-eighths to open an extra spot for an outside back. However, if they take the more traditional route, Ioane shapes up as a major contender for the final spot.

His ability to cover fullback is an added bonus, but without a test cap to his name, it will be interesting to see if the All Blacks are willing to throw him in the deep end at their biggest tournament. Performing well for Otago could be a deciding factor in his World Cup chances this time around.

Liam Coltman (Otago)

Liam Coltman of the Highlanders during the Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Hurricanes. Photo / Photosport
Liam Coltman of the Highlanders during the Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Hurricanes. Photo / Photosport

The Otago stalwart seems to have done enough to lock down a spot as the All Blacks' third hooker. That can't be taken for granted though with Wellington's Asafo Aumua still an outside chance to play his way into the 31-man squad.

Again, Coltman turning out for Otago may just be a case of getting some game time under his belt, but he'll have the opportunity to solidify his position in the World Cup frame.

Vaea Fifita (Wellington) — Jackson Hemopo (Manawatu) — Luke Jacobson (Waikato) — Liam Squire (Tasman)

Who wants to go to the World Cup the most? You can expect selectors to have their eyes firmly fixed on this quartet over the weekend, with the loose forwards expected to be in the running for one World Cup spot.

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Should Squire make himself available for selection, he'd be many people's favourite to get a spot in the squad. If not, it becomes a tight battle between the other three.

Whether or not lock Patrick Tuipulotu has done enough to secure a World Cup spot will have an impact on all three.

Should Tuipulotu secure a spot in the locking corps, the ability to cover lock becomes a less important requirement. If not, an ability to cover lock becomes a major advantage.

Rieko Ioane (Auckland)

Rieko Ioane of the All Blacks find space to score a Try. Photo / Photosport
Rieko Ioane of the All Blacks find space to score a Try. Photo / Photosport

It's strange to think there might be some doubt around Ioane's position in the World Cup squad given how he has performed in recent years. But with the emergence of George Bridge, Sevu Reece and Jordie Barrett, Ioane could be fighting for his position.

He and Ben Smith are the more experienced, but if the All Blacks take four outside backs rather than five there's no guarantee either incumbent holds their position. Look for Ioane to lock his spot away with an impressive performance for Auckland this weekend in the Mitre 10 Cup.