The pecking order at blindside hasn't yet been fixed, but for now, Liam Squire can probably consider himself the All Blacks' first choice.

The situation is fluid because veteran flanker Jerome Kaino hasn't played a test since June but will make a return to action on the Northern Hemisphere tour.

Only then, says All Blacks coach Steve Hansen will it be fair to start thinking about the order of preference between Squire, Kaino and Vaea Fifita.

"We haven't given JK [Kaino] a run yet," said Hansen in regard to why it wouldn't be right to say that the hierarchy has been established. "He's sitting there waiting until we get to the Northern Hemisphere. But I think Liam has played particularly well.


"Vaea is a young man who is learning to be a test player and both of them are going extremely well and we know what JK has done in the past.

"It is just a matter of an opportunity presenting itself to bring him back because he hasn't played a lot of rugby and to chuck him in at the deep end against Australia when he hasn't played for a while probably wasn't the right choice which is why we haven't picked him."

The situation at No 6 mirrors to some extent the situation at openside in that there are three outstanding candidates all pushing for selection.

The battle at blindside is, however, that little bit more intriguing for being that little bit more unexpected.

Squire hasn't come from nowhere as he was with the squad last year but he has made phenomenal improvements in the last few months, surprising all but the coaching staff with his performances.

He had his moments last year, but that was kind of the problem...he wasn't consistently doing what he needed to do.

His athleticism and desire to impose himself have never been in question, but throughout last year the question was whether he would develop the composure and confidence to consistently deliver high impact, bruising performances where he hurt teams both with and without the ball.

The speed at which he has been able to redefine himself has been what has caught most people by surprise.

He has developed a long way in a relatively short time and has managed to eradicate all doubts about his readiness during the Rugby Championship.

"He was a typical new entry to test rugby last year," says Hansen. "He was not always accurate and not always able to reproduce what he was doing in Super Rugby.

"But he's got more comfortable and a lot of the anxieties, the overwhelming nature of being an All Black is starting to disappear and you are starting to see the real Liam.

"He's a real physical beast. He's got pace, he's got good skills and he's good in the lineout. He's got the whole package and it is just a matter of now polishing that to the point where you can see all of his potential."

Whether he holds on to his top blindside billing will largely depend on what Kaino can offer in Europe.

Hansen suggested that whole Kaino is short of football and that it was too big a risk to start him in Brisbane, the veteran will play at some stage against either France, Scotland or Wales.

With a game against the Barbarians and French XV also to be negotiated, Kaino could be handed a reasonably heavy workload and ample opportunity to show whether he still has the edge in his game he needs to hold his place at this level.

Fifita, too, should be able to get on the field often enough with five games in four weeks to further enhance his case and by the end of November the speculation about the pecking order will have ended as by then, there will be concrete evidence to determine how the All Blacks see things.