There's a false reality within the All Blacks at the moment being shaped by their decision to be over-resourced in the loose forwards and midfield.

It's a false reality because the way the All Blacks are set up now is not the way they will be set up at the World Cup.

They currently have seven loose forwards and five midfielders and it is probable they will continue with that balance for the rest of this year.

But they can't take seven loose forwards and five midfielders to the World Cup, which is obscuring the fact some of the most vulnerable players are currently some of the best performing. Almost ridiculously, Ngani Laumape could steal the show for the rest of this year - and he's started pretty well - and still not make the World Cup.


When the time comes to switch into World Cup mode, the transition is going to yield some of the unluckiest players in years.

The All Blacks coaches made a deliberate choice in June to include seven back rowers and five midfielders. In the case of the midfield, the decision was driven by the form of the five men selected. The selectors wanted to use the intensity of competition to focus minds and put pressure on all five players to take their performance to new levels every time they played.

Come the World Cup, the squad will have to be trimmed to 31 and the nature of that tournament is such that the All Blacks essentially feel they have to carry five props, three hookers and three halfbacks and most likely they will retain their view that they need to have three first five-eighths as well.

At the last World Cup, the All Blacks picked three locks, six loose forwards and four midfielders. They may well repeat that next year which means, almost bizarrely, top of the vulnerable list is Laumape, who wowed everyone with his power-based cameo at Eden Park against France when he evoked memories of Jonah Lomu in the way he ran over fullback Maxime Medard.

The Hurricanes second-five has proven himself to be the best direct gainline runner in the country, as evidenced by his stunning four-try haul in last night's win over the Blues, and has done everything asked of him by the All Blacks. But come the big squeeze, when the All Blacks have to drop from five midfielders to four, his specialism may count against him.

It will be a tough call to make but when it comes to picking a World Cup squad, the coaches have a top XV in mind and then work out from there how they can stack their bench and how they can cover for short-term injuries.

If a replacement player has to be called into the World Cup squad, the one he replaces can't return to the tournament, so the coaches need to have options within the squad to deal with minor injury dramas.

If players aren't deemed likely starters, versatility becomes the key, and in the case of Laumape, he's an out-and-out No 12 with a specific way of playing, while Ryan Crotty and Anton Lienert-Brown can play both midfield berths, as, at a pinch, can Jack Goodhue.

The other factor working against Laumape is that by next year, Goodhue may have forced his way into a starting role alongside Sonny Bill Williams, which makes the versatility of Crotty and Lienert-Brown yet more valuable.

There have been some unlucky All Blacks over the years but Laumape, should fate conspire against him, would sit well up the list if he continues to play as well as he is.