The All Blacks have, or had, three great locks for their World Cup campaign.

Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock and Scott Barrett are about as good as it can get as a lock squad, although South Africa also has tremendous depth in the position.

Unfortunately for the All Blacks, daylight is fourth in the locking department particularly after Patrick Tuipulotu's insipid display in Buenos Aires last week.

A position of great strength might now present something of a problem.

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We rank the replacements if Brodie Retallick is ruled out of the World Cup.

Patrick Tuipulotu

Ball-carrying power is his calling card but despite flashes of potential greatness, the big Blues middle rower never strings together test class performances.

The All Blacks will have been buoyed by loose forward Shannon Frizell's lineout work against the Springboks.

But their overall lineout security and ability to attack opponents woult not be helped by Tuipulotu's presence.

Tuipulotu's potential remains, but he's a man who can't find his mojo. His failure to grab his World Cup chance against Argentina is a big concern.

If Whitelock and Barrett start the big games, specialist lock Tuipulotu's presence on the bench would reduce the All Blacks' versatility.

All Blacks v South Africa - Match page. All the stats from Saturday's 16-16 draw

Jackson Hemopo

The All Blacks will be downsizing if they take Jackson Hemopo as a specialist lock. He's got all the attributes and looks made for test combat and you could confidently play him against Italy, Namibia and Canada in the pool stage. But lining him up in the big games, and against big packs, is another matter.

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Put it this way. RG Snyman, the bloke who has put Retallick's World Cup in doubt, is 2.07m and 117kg. Hemopo is 1.95m and 112kg. And size does matter.

Jackson Hemopo. Photo / Photosport.co.nz
Jackson Hemopo. Photo / Photosport.co.nz

Hemopo, who can play as a blindside loose forward, falls between a few stools by test standards,

He appeared to acknowledge his limited test prospects by signing a contract to play in Japan. And he doesn't have enough test miles on the clock to consider for something like a World Cup final.

Luke Romano

Luke Romano was once part of a Big Three, with Retallick and Sam Whitelock. He's become a forgotten figure, because of Scott Barrett's amazing rise.

Romano is a power ball runner rather than an athlete. He's been there and done that, and any player from the Crusaders' centre of excellence has advantages.

The 33-year-old, who played the last of his 31 tests two years ago, is a longshot but might be the best bet in the World Cup furnace.

Highlander Tom Franklin would come into the calculations. The NZ Maori lock was called into the All Black squad as cover last year although he has still to play a test.

Longshots

All Blacks Luke Romano, Shannon Frizell and Ryan Crotty at All Blacks training session at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin. Photo / Brett Phibbs.
All Blacks Luke Romano, Shannon Frizell and Ryan Crotty at All Blacks training session at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin. Photo / Brett Phibbs.

The absolute longshots are Crusader Quinten Strange and Highlanders/NZ Maori lock Pari Pari Parkinson. If there is a player with the potential and build to reach the amazing heights of Retallick and Whitelock it is Parkinson. But hurling him into the mix at this late stage would be seen as a massive risk, and unfair on his development. He'd be fine against Namibia, but what if he was called up for a finals match? Strange has a bit of mongrel to him, and there's no such thing as a bad Crusaders forward. He's had terrific players to learn from, and would be a natural fit in a Crusaders dominated test pack.

Vaea Fifita is having enough trouble convincing anyone of his World Cup credentials as a blindside flanker, his preferred position. He is too loose and erratic to be considered as a specialist World Cup lock, and has publicly stated he doesn't like playing the position which is hardly a good start.

VERDICT: Anyone outside of Retallick, Whitelock and Barrett is a concerning downgrade.