Don't rule out Ngani Laumape starting his first test this week. The All Blacks sure haven't lost faith in their second five-eighth prospect.
Criticism flowed Laumape's way for some of his defensive decisions on debut in the second test defeat against the Lions in Wellington.
Laumape came off the bench after 25 minutes to replace Sonny Bill Williams as the All Blacks opted to play one forward down by pulling Jerome Kaino due to the red card.
Other than a couple of defensive errors, one of which he was sucked in by Owen Farrell's wraparound allowing hooker Jamie George to slide through, Laumape also dropped the ball late.
But, given context, All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster praised the 24-year-old's work.
"What a tough way to start your test career; to come in and have to do your role and someone else's. I think in those circumstances he did really well. I would like to think whilst he'll be pretty disappointed with the result he should be proud of what he did out there. He was still able to express himself and do what he likes doing.
"Like the rest of the team there will be some lessons that when you drop a man it requires a slightly different focus in some areas. We didn't get that 100 per cent right obviously but he should be pretty proud of his first game.
"Ngani's performance proved he was working hard even when he wasn't in the group."
Give his lack of experience at this level it may be seen as a gamble of sorts, but the theory of potentially starting Laumape would be he offers a more like-for-like Williams replacement than anyone else the All Blacks can call on at No 12.
While the Jonathan Sexton-Farrell axis worked well on attack, they weren't tested defensively as the All Blacks narrowed their focus to try control possession.
Laumape proved throughout this year just how damaging his ball-carrying qualities are, doing so again in the Hurricanes' draw with the Lions where he gave first-five Dan Biggar a hellish night.
His ability to punch over the gain-line could provide similar impact to Williams in the opening test at Eden Park. It would also allow Anton Lienert-Brown to stay at centre, where the All Blacks believe he is best suited.
When the All Blacks named their squad for the Lions series they picked Laumape for a reason, clearly signaling he and Crusaders centre Jack Goodhue were ahead of Malakai Fekitoa in the pecking order.
For a test of this magnitude, Fekitoa's experience and defensive soundness are, no doubt, key considerations. But he also hasn't performed as well as Laumape this season.
"We have got a number of options in the midfield," Foster said. "It has been an interesting series in terms of the changes we've had to make with the Ryan [Crotty] injury and Sonny's red card. It has forced a change and it just goes to show you've really got to make sure you're preparing a group of four or five at all stages to be ready to play.
Fortunately we've been doing that."
Midfield may not be the only backline change. Foster revealed Waisake Naholo, following the blow to the head he copped from Sean O'Brien, has struggled to fully recover. That could open the door for a Julian Savea recall, with Rieko Ioane possibly switching to the right wing.
"He had limited involvement in training today and we've got a few more hurdles to climb to see if he's clear," Foster said of Naholo.
The other selection conundrum is what to do on the bench. Ioane, should he be retained, offers midfield cover so there may be a tendency to lean towards Jordie Barrett and his back-three versatility.