Chiefs prop Angus Ta'avao could start and halfback TJ Perenara could spend some time at first five-eighths in the All Blacks' first test of the year next month.
Fanciful? Maybe, though the first All Blacks selection of the year – against Argentina in Buenos Aires – could be the most experimental since the unit which took on Japan last year.
That is likely if, as some think, this year's Super Rugby final features the Crusaders and Hurricanes. All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has already said that, if the Crusaders are in the final, he will stand down some players for that test. Ditto if the Hurricanes are the opposition.
Even without that, the July 21 test could throw up some unusual contenders for the World Cup squad. Like Ta'avao. He has been behind Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Nepo Laulala, the mysteriously absent Karl Tu'inukuafe and maybe even Chiefs teammate Atu Moli, whom the All Blacks see as able to play both sides.
But a message has filtered down from on high that some New Zealand props are not as mobile and possess a lesser workrate than some encountered on the northern hemisphere tour last year. Anyone who saw Ta'avao's display in the Chiefs' 59-8 dismantling of the Rebels on Friday night will have seen his running, passing and carrying skills centre stage.
Sure, it was the Rebels, fresh from a 66-0 massacre by the Crusaders; they folded like an origami convention. But Ta'avao not only attacked with craft, he also got through a power of work and anchored a superior scrum with Moli.
As for Perenara, it was fascinating to see him occasionally operating at first receiver for the Hurricanes last weekend. Several times he directed play outside the temporary halfback at rucks; his tactical kicking game was pretty good – interesting if, as expected, the All Blacks take only two first fives to Japan after the loss of Damian McKenzie.
Beauden Barrett or Richie Mo'unga could start against the Pumas with Perenara coming off the bench for some time there. That would mean no room for a direct third halfback comparison between Brad Weber and Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (or Bryn Hall) but other tests may be useful for that, if required.
There will be a number of senior All Blacks in the starting side against the Pumas. Pencil in, for example, Sonny Bill Williams, Ben Smith, Brodie Retallick, Liam Squire and Sam Cane – all of whom have not had as much rugby as others.
At hooker, Nathan Harris and Liam Coltman are neck-and-neck as third hooker. Harris has previously had the edge as a ball-carrier and support player but Coltman has really come on this season, burgling turnovers regularly.
The Buenos Aires test would be ideal for analysing key loose forward options like Shannon Frizell – struggling to force his way into the Highlanders' starting XV lately – and Akira Ioane, on the fringes of selection all year but needing a chance to show what he can do at this level.
Jackson Hemopo is another who could force his way in – though he is leaving for overseas after 2019. His ability to cover lock and No 6 in the World Cup squad could be telling. Though he is out of action right now, don't be surprised if Chiefs' flanker Luke Jacobson figures somewhere in the Rugby Championship – his brief Super Rugby campaign revealed a genuine contender for what is thought to be an undecided section of the World Cup squad.
Ben Smith, Rieko Ioane and Jordie Barrett seem certainties in the World Cup back three – meaning spots are open for two of Waisake Naholo, George Bridge, Ben Lam, David Havili, Sevu Reece and Braydon Ennor.
Naholo also hasn't had much rugby lately. Reece hasn't been tested by an international side with a stifling defence and a class kicking game (exactly what the All Blacks will face at the World Cup).
Hansen is big on assessing players in matches of real pressure; the Pumas will bring plenty - a good time to find out if Reece has the defensive capabilities to go with his attacking skills.
Ennor may be another tried in this environment. He can play centre and both wings (and probably second-five); his pace, strength and form has been compelling this season and he could yet fill a Richard Kahui role as in the 2011 World Cup.
Bridge and Naholo are probably frontrunners but maybe Naholo's spot is most under threat from Ennor, Bridge (who can cover fullback) and Reece. Naholo's form is picking up; his work in the Super Rugby finals will be key.
So how's this for an All Blacks starting XV and bench for the test against the Pumas in Buenos Aires on July 21?
Hooker: Liam Coltman
Props: Atu Moli, Angus Ta'avao
Locks: Brodie Retallick, Jackson Hemopo
Loose forwards: Liam Squire, Sam Cane (c), Akira Ioane
Halfback: Aaron Smith
First-five: Richie Mo'unga
Midfield: Sonny Bill Williams, Braydon Ennor
Wings: Waisake Naholo, Sevu Reece
Fullback: Ben Smith
Bench: Nathan Harris, Ofa Tu'ungafasi or Karl Tu'inukuafe, Nepo Laulala, Dalton Papali'i, Shannon Frizell; TJ Perenara, Anton Lienart-Brown, George Bridge.