It's to be hoped the All Black selectors cast their net wide for the August 29 North-South match at Eden Park – a fixture that has no modern history, no real rivalry and no compelling case for existing.
Aside from the money, of course; we can't underestimate the importance of every dollar to New Zealand Rugby right now. But this match is an All Black trial dressed in interisland clothing and the selectors should take a long range view of things.
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They should focus on testing non-All Black or hardly-played All Black talent, rather than trying to build up some sort of faux rivalry between leading players of the day – especially when the qualifying criterion is where each player began their first-class rugby career.
I mean, who cares about that? You are either a mainlander or you're not. I have a mate who's lived in Auckland since Eve bit into the apple. He's an ardent Cantabrian and still sends annoying emails lauding the "red-and-blacks".
No, even at this early and Covid-19-affected stage, All Blacks coach Ian Foster has to be looking at likely gaps in his playing ranks. The only fixtures lined up for the All Blacks thus far is a proposed four-test Bledisloe Cup series in October, so it makes sense to try out newcomers to see how they fare in more exalted company and under a harsher spotlight.
Take lock, for example, an area where the All Blacks do not have much depth. Brodie Retallick is on sabbatical and Scott Barrett's injury will almost certainly rule him out. The selectors know what they'll get from Sam Whitelock and Patrick Tuipulotu but they may be employed in this match to help measure others.
What others? Pari Pari Parkinson, of the Highlanders, has not yet displayed urgent international pick-me form in Super Rugby but he is athletic and, at 2.04m and about 119kg, he has the dimensions to compete in international rugby. Look for him to pack down with Whitelock for the South. Other possibilities include the Crusaders duo of Mitchell Dunshea and Quinten Strange.
For the North, some will plump for the Hurricanes' hardworking James Blackwell but the selectors could try out the big blindside flanker for the Blues, Tom Robinson, at lock to see if he has genuine squad appeal in two positions. He is currently out with a knee injury and may not get back before the end of Super Rugby Aotearoa.
Former under-20s lock Isaia Walker-Leawere could also feature though he hasn't been sighted often for the Hurricanes so far after the restart. If you want a real long-range roughie, 20-year-old Chiefs lock Naitoa Ah Kuoi might be a good bet. At 1.96m and 115kg, he has size and has impressed with his work rate and athleticism; he clearly has developing to do but might be worth introducing to this level.
Lock's not the only position which needs future-proofing. Hooker Codie Taylor has clearly become New Zealand's No 1 after the re-start; Dane Coles has been quiet so far. Pitching these two against each other in the interisland game appeals – but the greater need is for some new blood.
Coles is 33 and will be rising 37 by the time of the next World Cup and, while there is plenty of life in him yet, the fact remains there are few options. Back-up Liam Coltman is already 30. Taylor, 29, has been in great form with his all-round game but, beyond surprise 2017 All Black call-up Asafo Aumua, there are few rising hookers in view.
Coltman has been forced on to the bench by veteran Highlanders skipper Ash Dixon before this weekend but he performed well at All Black level last year without cracking the top team. A battle between him and Aumua (or even a third Hurricanes' hooker, Ricky Riccitelli, forced back to club rugby by Aumua and Coles before being named on the bench tomorrow) would probably give the selectors more insight than a Taylor-Coles clash.
That kind of "bolter" selection used to be a feature of the old interisland clashes – when the selectors were not so tightly tied to All Black demands. Who can forget the excellent Frank Bunce, ignored as an All Black until he was 30 but turning out to be very good indeed once then coach Laurie Mains promoted him.
That was in 1992; Bunce had been selected for the North Island in 1986 in a blaze of publicity before sinking back to often not even being selected for Auckland. He made an All Black trial in 1988 but it was four long years before Mains' insight saw Bunce begin his 55 high-quality test matches.
The dubious island eligibility means one of the most anticipated clashes – in the largely empty No 8 position – won't happen. The Blues' Hoskins Sotutu and the Highlanders' Marino Mikaele-Tu'u are both North-qualified, with Mikaele-Tu'u starting his first-class career in Hawke's Bay. Maybe they can have a half each.
Another certain to get a trial, sorry…game, is Crusaders loosie Cullen Grace, if recovered from injury. He is still rangy and raw-boned but has an astonishing work rate and a killer tackle; he calls to mind another Crusaders forward with little regard for his own safety, Norm Maxwell.
Many are predicting Grace will be the next long-term All Black No 6. He and Shannon Frizell are likely to turn out for the South while the likes of Dalton Papalii, the Chiefs' Lachlan Boshier or Robinson could line up against them.
Whatever the make-up of the two teams, let's make it a trial and not try to foster a fake rivalry none of us really feel.