A year ago Seta Taminavalu was called into the All Blacks squad to cover for some front-liners involved in the Super Rugby final.
He'd not been prominent in that tournament but it was tough for him at the Chiefs where Charlie Ngatai, Sonny Bill Williams and Andrew Horrell got most of the midfield work.
However Steve Hansen and his selectors had seen enough from Taminavalu in the national championship then Super Rugby to believe he was someone with international potential. He was a big man with plenty of pace and all the skills to develop into a topline centre.
When he was pulled into the reinforcement crew for Samoa, Hansen hoped the All Black selectors would see more of him this season.
They have because SBW has been on sevens duty as Ngatai, Anton Lienert-Brown and Taminavalu have become the core midfield men. Two more games for the Chiefs, tonight against the Rebels then away next Friday against the Waratahs follow before Taminavalu finds out if he's made a case for All Black inclusion.
Head of the queue to replace Conrad Smith at centre must be Malakai Fekitoa who brings more of a bruising style of confrontation while his sense of space, depth on attack and defensive lines are developing. When he shifted in a spot last round he was more subdued as Matt Faddes scorched the turf. That was impressive but newer faces like Faddes and David Havili need more games to build their portfolios.
George Moala made his test debut on the wing against Samoa last year but has not kicked on when he has been used at second five or centre. Some of that can be blamed on the mediocrity of the Blues and while Moala can be a powerful force, some of his wider skills need attention.
If Fekitoa and Taminavalu are the best centres they will offer different styles for the All Blacks to piggyback and spark plenty of ideas about whether Ryan Crotty or Ngatai is an interchangeable partnership at second five.
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