Sam Whitelock's absence – possibly for the remainder of the Irish series – shines a spotlight on the All Blacks lineout for the second test in Dunedin.
For the vast majority of his 133 tests, Whitelock has formed the fulcrum of the All Blacks lineout, calling the shots and largely commanding the air.
Without the 33-year-old, Ireland will sense a sniff in their quest to level the series as the All Blacks are forced to once again alter plans for their starting team and, this week, reshape their forward pack.
In the 42-19 victory at Eden Park Scott Barrett's selection at blindside flanker allowed the All Blacks to consistently challenge Ireland's lineout, with the Crusaders captain covering the long ball often designated to loose forward Peter O'Mahony. This area wasn't perfect but the All Blacks won 7/9 of their lineouts and pinched 3/17 Irish throws.
Ireland use the lineout as a strike weapon, building much of their game and confidence from their set piece platform. The All Blacks ability to negate these areas contributed to their success last week.
Whitelock's delayed onset concussion, which under World Rugby's new 12-day stand down protocols is now expected to rule him out for the remainder of this series, probably dictates the All Blacks will need to switch Barrett from blindside to lock.
In an ideal world Tupou Vaa'i, the form lock through Super Rugby with the Chiefs, would slot in the second-row but he is the latest All Black to test positive for Covid.
Losing two locks in as many days forced the All Blacks to request the New Zealand Rugby board use its discretion to sign off Patrick Tuipulotu immediately joining the squad as a replacement player after his return from a six-month stint in Japan.
Tuipulotu scored a try playing club rugby for Ponsonby last weekend but, prior to receiving the NZ Rugby board exemption, he had to play for Auckland in the NPC before being eligible for the All Blacks.
While Tuipulotu trained with the All Blacks in Auckland last week, ushering him straight into the starting side seems a risky option from a fitness perspective. Switching Barrett to lock, and bringing either Akira Ioane or Blues captain Dalton Papalii onto the blindside, makes more sense.
The All Blacks have also called in Highlanders lock Josh Dickson from the Māori squad and Highlanders loose forward Shannon Frizell to train with the team as cover this week.
Addressing the latest deflections following Tuesday training at the University Oval, All Blacks captain Sam Cane admitted Whitelock's lineout nous was a big loss but he backed others to fill the void.
"It's not ideal. Sam was awesome in the weekend. He became the second most capped All Black of all time which is hugely impressive. We'll no doubt miss his leadership and what he brings," Cane said.
"Tupou had been playing well all Super Rugby and was hanging out for his opportunity so it's a tough pill for him to swallow.
"We've got to the stage where anyone who hasn't had it, it's lurking and it's going to strike soon and poor Tups had to get it this week.
"In terms of replacements it's great to have a 40-odd test All Black in Patrick Tuipulotu to call in. He trained with us last week which was awesome so he's up to speed and he'll slip in pretty seamlessly."
Brodie Retallick, who appears to have recovered from a poke in the eye, will assume responsibility for calling the All Blacks lineout – a task he assumed last year when Whitelock remained at home for the birth of his third child.
Testing the All Blacks depth at lock offers a glimpse into the future but it also disrupts plans to challenge Ireland's traditional strength.
"Sam runs our lineout particularly well. Brodie will take over that mantle," Cane said. "He did that for the majority of the Rugby Championship last year so he's ready and looking forward to doing that. It's crazy he's played 90-odd tests and his locking partner has always been the one running the lineout. He's done it at Super Rugby time and time again. Other than that it'll be business as usual.
"It's impressive the way it doesn't fluster the boys they just get on and know someone else will step up. That's the way it is again."
While the All Blacks cope with losing key personnel, Ireland have been boosted by veteran playmaker Jonathan Sexton passing his concussion tests to be available for selection.
That's partly why despite running in six tries – four in the first half – in the opening test, Cane knows the All Blacks must improve to match Ireland's desperation this week.
"We were lucky we managed to have a good period for the second period of the first half where we piled the points on but if you look at the rest of the test it was fairly even. We know they'll lift from last week but we certainly need to be better. If we deliver what we did last week this week, I don't think it'll be good enough.
"It's always energising highlighting areas we can be better and where we made some shifts. Under the roof in the middle of winter to be playing in perfect conditions that excites this team that wants to play fast and use our skills."