When the final whistle blew in the All Blacks' final match of the Rugby World Cup, it brought with it more uncertainty than closure.
With a host of incumbent players moving on to greener pastures, the opportunity will be there for others to stake their claims to the open roles, or show they can cover there if need be, with the No 8 jersey front and centre.
But it won't just be the trade No 8s who want to show their ability in the role. This season, the Chiefs will flirt with moving openside flanker Sam Cane from the side of the scrum to the back of it.
• 2020 Super Rugby: Chiefs, Crusaders, Blues, Hurricanes and Highlanders name their squads - All you need to know
• 2020 Super Rugby: 10-test All Blacks prop Kane Hames to take time off after concussion struggles, Chiefs assistant coach says
• Premium - Super Rugby scouting report: Five up-and-coming prospects to watch
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
It won't be a permanent option, and might not be seen all that frequently, however Chiefs forwards coach Neil Barnes said it was an option that had been discussed.
"It's not a definite No 8," Barnes said of Cane. "It's certainly something he and I have talked about. It will help us, and it will help him develop his game and it will be another asset for us to have someone who can play No 8 if they have to."
With the 2020 season in the not too distant future, the Chiefs will look to solve the puzzle of their forward pack. The departures of No 8 Taleni Seu, who was out injured for the majority of 2019, and lock Brodie Retallick have opened up gaps in their side.
What they don't lack, however, are loose forwards who can play across either the second or back row of the pack. Toward the end of last season, Pita Gus Sowakula, Tyler Ardron and Luke Jacobson all saw time in the No 8 jersey, with Ardron spending most of his time at lock and Mitch Brown being able to move freely from the loose forwards to lock.
"Having people like Tyler Ardron and Mitch Brown who are seasoned campaigners and play in the loose forwards or lock means we're got flexibility to do what's needed."
The No 8 role will be an interesting area to keep an eye on throughout the season as players will look to get the first shot in the vacant All Blacks role. Hurricanes star Ardie Savea is set to play at the back of the scrum this season with Vaea Fifita on the blindside, while a consistent season could see either Highlanders' Shannon Frizell or Blues' stalwart Akira Ioane make a play to replace Kieran Read.