New Zealand coach Brian McClennan may have to pluck a halfback out of reserve grade or the Bartercard Cup to play in the Anzac test against Australia as he faces a dire shortage of top-class candidates for the position.

With Stacey Jones out with a broken arm and Karmichael Hunt still to decide if he's a New Zealander or a Queenslander, McClennan had been eyeing up West Tigers five-eighths Benji Marshall as a makeshift halfback.

Unfortunately for Marshall, club and country, the 21-year-old with the step injured a shoulder in the Tigers' Friday night loss to North Queensland and McClennan is still searching for a halfback for the May 5 test.

And don't be surprised if that halfback is not a regular in the NRL.

McClennan said yesterday that Warriors' utility Lance Hohaia, unable to crack the playing squad and doing time in the Bartercard Cup with Waicoa Bay Stallions, was one option.

Fringe or NRL reserve grade options were Parramatta utility Marcus Perenara and reserve halfback Jeremy Smith, and Bulldogs halfback or hooker Billy Ngawini.

"We're facing a bit of a difficult one here," McClennan said.

"There's no one playing halfback that's eligible for the test match in the NRL at the moment."

Former Warrior and test player Thomas Leuluai was playing top grade in England with the London Broncos and could come into contention.

"Benji was the six [five-eighths] but we were looking at him at seven [halfback]," McClennan said.

"We're looking for people who have got a general kicking game and whether they're six, seven or nine [hooker] doesn't matter, somebody who's got a good long kicking game."

One player who wouldn't be asked to fill in was regular fullback Brent Webb. "Who's in the world playing fullback that could take over the fullback spot if he comes up [to halfback]? There are no fullbacks who are Kiwis.

"There's not one in the NRL. There's actually not one in Great Britain in the Super League either."

McClennan said New Zealand had not been producing many top-quality hookers, halfbacks, five-eighths or fullbacks in recent years.

"Our props, centres and backrowers are the best in the world."

Of his Kiwis squad of 17, McClennan said he had "not come close" to nailing down many positions.

"Anything can happen. You've only got to look at Benji Marshall. We're not going to get ahead of ourselves."

McClennan said he would name his squad on April 30 for the test the following Friday night and that should be sufficient time to prepare the side.

"Australia will have the same time. Their boys have got to play in the NRL too. You can get a lot done in three or four days and sometimes having longer becomes a waste of time; you're just sitting around. You can't get them any fitter."

The most famous instance of a Kiwi being called up from reserve grade to represent his country was in 1985 when five-eighth Olsen Filipaina gave Australian legend Wally Lewis nightmares as the Kiwis beat the Kangaroos 18-0 at Carlaw Park.

- NZPA