If there is one area of Super Rugby Aotearoa likely to be causing All Blacks coach Ian Foster headaches it will be the wobbly lineouts that threaten to become a concerning theme.
New Zealand's locking depth was always going to be a major issue this year. While Blues captain Patrick Tuipulotu's career-best form offers one positive, the local derby competition has confirmed fears around the second-row stocks, with several teams forced to push flankers into locking roles.
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"All the franchises would agree that we don't seem to have a lot of depth at lock," Blues forwards coach Tom Coventry said. "Why that is, there's lots of reasons. The height of basketball tends to take our big tall men and they do a good job promoting their game."
Two weeks is an admittedly small sample but it is no coincidence the Hurricanes and Chiefs – both winless in Super Rugby Aotearoa – have the worst-performing lineouts (and scrums) of teams to play two fixtures.
Disrupting possession at the set piece source can, clearly, cripple the ability to build attacking momentum.
The intense focus on the breakdown rulings that has compromised spectacles and dished up 108 penalties through the four completed matches has only enhanced problems for those teams with weaker lineouts.
Overall the five New Zealand teams have delivered a disappointing 81.3 per cent lineout success rate (96/118) through the first two rounds.
After losses to the Blues and Crusaders the Hurricanes lineout is operating at a lowly 74.1 per cent (23/31) despite the presence of All Blacks hooker Dane Coles.
The Chiefs are clearly missing Brodie Retallick, the world-class All Blacks lock on an 18-month sabbatical from NZ Rugby. Chiefs coach Warren Gatland attempted to lure Retallick back but he opted to enjoy his break while the Japanese Top League is suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Compounding matters further for Gatland is the loss of Canadian international Tyler Ardron, Michael Allardice and Laghlan McWhannell as well as former All Blacks hooker Nathan Harris to season-ending injuries, which leaves promising locks Naitoa Ah Kuoi and Tupou Vaa'i with the lineout responsibility on their young shoulders.
And while Chiefs hooker Samisoni Taukei'aho provides dynamic carries around the field, his lineout throwing needs work.
After losing four lineouts in their opening defeat in Dunedin, the Chiefs lost two more against the Blues for an 81.8 per cent completion (27/33) thus far.
Even the Crusaders, following their first round bye, lost five of 15 lineouts (66.6 per cent) in their victory over the Hurricanes in Wellington last weekend. Losing captain Scott Barrett – potentially for the remainder of the competition – to a foot injury no doubt disrupted plans but with All Blacks hooker Codie Taylor and test centurion Sam Whitelock calling the shots, there should be no excuses in this area.
Foster can rely on Whitelock, Tuipulotu and Barrett, once he recovers, but the All Blacks coach desperately needs other second-rowers pushing their case over the next eight weeks.
This year's test calendar is unlikely to be overly taxing, with the Wallabies the only tests initially on the radar in October due to the coronavirus-enforced closed borders, but this new four-year cycle is also the perfect opportunity to groom the next locking generation.
All Blacks forwards coach John Plumtree will be pleased to see Highlanders lock Pari Pari Parkinson deliver a strong performance during the opening round win over the Chiefs. Parkinson, the 2.04 metre 23-year-old, is considered the standout All Blacks prospect but until now he has not regularly nailed his spot the Highlanders starting side.
Parkinson's performance against Chiefs contributed to the Highlanders' perfect 14 lineout wins but, somewhat surprisingly, team-mate Josh Dickson leads competition with eight takes in that one outing.
Blues lock Josh Goodhue is next best with seven. The Blues' 88 per cent (22/25) lineout return from their two victories since the resumption represents a vast improvement on struggles in this area earlier in the year.
Coventry says Tuipulotu's dedication in calling extra sessions instigated the turnaround.
"Rather than working harder we put a bit more volume into it. We added a lineout session on our day off and this morning Paddy asked the boys to meet him at 9 to walk through the new material.
"He takes a lot of credit for that and James Parsons is pretty clever with that stuff too.
"In the past we've left the boys by themselves to learn lineouts and that can be fraught with danger, particularly when you've got young men with plenty to learn."
Coventry believes greater focus on contesting opposition ball has led to more lineout steals.
"The lineout is definitely under more pressure defensively because of the way teams have three or four different options up their sleeve. That's probably where the big change has been.
"You can double guess yourself sometimes and when you get into a bit of a rut when a couple don't go straight or they pick off a couple it can soon snowball into big problems. Having a calm head, a good caller, and some experience does help.
"When you look at what's coming through our system the New Zealand schools locks from last year will be highly sought-after because there's a couple of good boys in that programme. Three doesn't go into five so everyone will be jockeying for those boys."
The All Blacks, however, need locks to stand up now.
Blues: 22/25 (88 per cent from two games)
Chiefs: 27/33 (81 per cent from two games)
Hurricanes: 23/31 (74 per cent from two games)
Crusaders: 10/15 (66 per cent from one game)
Highlanders: 14/14 (100 per cent from one game)