It's at this point, with the domestic series against Tonga and Fiji over, and with the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship featuring the varied physical threats of Australia, South Africa and Argentina fast approaching, that All Blacks head coach Ian Foster may be thankful for the progression of one player in particular.
Given the options available to Foster, there are few players probably apart from Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick and Aaron Smith guaranteed to start in the Bledisloe Cup test at Eden Park on August 7, but while No 8 Luke Jacobson, the player known at the Chiefs as "concrete shoulders", isn't quite set in stone he is likely to be on the team sheet in indelible ink at least.
There are fewer All Blacks as good at the breakdown as Jacobson and as ever this will be the battleground over the next few months. Will Jordan's five tries against Tonga at Mt Smart Stadium caught the eye but Jacobson's accuracy and efficiency at the tackled-ball area is likely to live long in the memory for Foster and his fellow selectors.
Jacobson's skill there will allow Akira Ioane to operate to his ball-playing and running strengths slightly away from the breakdown and, with Ardie Savea an excellent all-rounder, the Chiefs man is looming as a key link in the loose forward trio while Sam Cane remains on the sidelines. It's nothing more than he deserves after he suffered the disappointment of being sent home from the 2019 World Cup due to concussion issues. It was upsetting but he never lost hope of a return to the black jersey.
Australia will arrive in New Zealand in just over a week having come through the adversity of a difficult series against France. They showed resilience to beat the French in Brisbane despite the absence of red-carded wing Marika Koroibete for most of the test but it's what they couldn't do against a side without many of their established stars which was perhaps just as significant for the All Blacks.
The Wallabies' attack was relatively easily contained by the tourists which forced Dave Rennie's men to go up the middle with pick and go tactics which they may resort to if and when they run out of ideas against the All Blacks. With Jacobson wearing the black No 8 jersey that may not be the wisest of plans and it will put pressure on Wallabies openside Michael Hooper to stay near the ball in order to neutralise the turnover threat Jacobson poses.
Similarly, Foster is unlikely to need to watch the upcoming series between South Africa and the British and Irish Lions to know how the Boks will approach their tests against the All Blacks in late September and early October, and in particular the first test under the roof in Dunedin, the 100th between the two nations.
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That will be the first time the All Blacks play the Boks, the world champions, since the World Cup, and there will be scores to settle. It will be a brutal contest and ball security will be at a premium. That's quickly becoming Jacobson's territory.
The Pumas will attempt to bring a similar level of physicality with confidence bolstered perhaps after their historic victory over the All Blacks last year.
Foster will have known what the rejuvenated Sevu Reece was capable of on either wing. He may have hoped for a more mature Damian McKenzie at fullback and that's what he's got. David Havili's form in a relatively unfamiliar midfield position will be pleasing.
But Jacobson, a 24-year-old who played two tests in 2019 before his opportunities for the All Blacks in south Auckland, Dunedin and Hamilton this year, has been the big mover. And as the physical threats become exponentially more intense this year, so will his importance to the team.