An expanded All Blacks squad for the Samoa test will hand opportunities to a host of new-comers, with Lima Sopoaga and Brad Weber sitting near the top of that group.
The first test of the year, a ground-breaking trip to Apia on July 8, will pose a selection problem for the All Blacks coaches, with the Super Rugby final set for four days earlier.
No player involved in that match will feature in Samoa and, with four Kiwi teams currently in the playoff race, there's a chance a number of senior All Blacks will miss the team's first trip to the Pacific Islands.
The absentees will be accounted for by an expanded 41-strong squad but, even then, replacement players may still be required, meaning the second-tier of talent in New Zealand will be called upon.
And one man among that group - providing the Highlanders fail to progress to the Super Rugby showpiece - is Sopoaga. The first five has impressed all season for the southern side and, with Aaron Cruden set to miss the rest of the season, Sopaga's form has caught the eye of Steve Hansen.
"He has been and he's putting pressure on us with his performances," the All Blacks coach told Radio Sport. "I'm looking forward to watching him and others when the pressure's really on in the big matches to see if they can cope.
"Because it's a different environment when real pressure's on and obviously test match rugby is different to Super round robin games. The semis and the finals are really tough mentally and that's where you see the good guys stand up."
Weber is another player who will be under the microscope if the Chiefs progress to the playoffs, with the halfback's performances leaving two-test All Black Augustine Pulu consigned to the bench. And with the race wide open to join Aaron Smith and TJ Perenara in the World Cup squad, Weber has caught the eye.
"He's playing really well and he's keeping a player out who was an All Black on the end of year tour," Hansen said. "He plays the game with a lot of smarts, he's a good decision-maker and he's in a position where we don't have a lot of depth, I think. One and two are pretty clear cut and both are playing really well, but that third position is definitely open to discussion."
One popular topic for discussion this season has been the form of Richie McCaw and Dan Carter. The senior pair has come under criticism for slow starts to the season in a Crusaders team lacking consistency, but Hansen was predictably unperturbed by the issue.
"If players aren't playing well, you want to know why," Hansen said. "They don't become bad players unless there's a reason. One of them might be age, one of them might be injury, one of them might be psychological. So what is it? You slowly address those things and you get an answer.
"Dan Carter's been struggling but every week I think he's gotten better and better. We all know he's had a leg injury and that leg injury has taken him some time to get over. He's now starting to show some confidence in himself and confidence is a massive thing."
Hansen was far from worried with Carter being kept out of the No10 jersey by Colin Slade, pointing out that there would be plenty of options for Carter to play in his regular position in the five tests before the All Blacks squad is named for the World Cup.
And there was a similar lack of consternation surrounding McCaw's form and fitness, with the concussion the captain suffered against the Blues causing little concern.
"We've heard many, many times about Richie and why he's not playing well enough, yet every time it really matters he'll stand up," Hansen said. "Yes, he got concussed but the guy's been through concussion before and if anyone understands his body any better than he does, I'd be amazed. And he's not stupid - he's not going to risk his future for a game of rugby, as much as a rugby game means to him.
"I'm confident he's fine and I'm confident that once he gets a series of games - because he hasn't played too many in a row - that he'll be fine."