It appears that gone are the days when Blues players virtually selected themselves providing their form was adequate; Hoskins Sotutu's surprise early takeover of the No 8 jersey is evidence of that and Otere Black's form at first-five has now provided a relatively high benchmark for Beauden Barrett.
Sotutu, only 21, has been the find of the season so far with his explosive running and high workrate, although he will step aside this week to allow Akira Ioane to prove his credentials against the Hurricanes in Wellington.
It will be Ioane's first start of the season, an unusual situation for a man who started every game over the past two seasons.
He was left at home in Auckland when the Blues went on their successful tour of South Africa where they beat the Bulls and Stormers and part of their recent success must be down to the increased competition for places in the squad.
Coach Leon MacDonald and before him Tana Umaga have long talked about creating that sort of healthy tension and now MacDonald seems to have found the right balance in terms of getting high levels of performance out of his men.
That's not always easy when expectations have to be managed and there will be scrutiny on Ioane's performance against the Hurricanes at Sky Stadium. Ioane was superb last year but the Blues (and All Blacks) coaches felt his performances dropped due to tiredness. That shouldn't be an issue this season.
For Black, a late starter due to injury, the situation is a little different. The 24-year-old started his first game of the season against the Bulls in Pretoria and marked it by kicking a penalty after the final siren to seal a 23-21 victory.
A week later he kicked all seven shots at goal for a famous 33-14 victory over the Stormers in Cape Town.
He knows, however, that rival Barrett will start training with the Blues on Monday after a post-World Cup sabbatical and that the No 10 jersey may not be readily available for too much longer. All Black Barrett's first game is scheduled to be against his former team the Hurricanes at Eden Park on April 11.
But Black's form, and that of midfielders Joe Marchant, TJ Faiane, wing Mark Telea and loose forwards Sotutu, Tony Lamborn, Dalton Papalii, Blake Gibson and Tom Robinson means there is genuine competition for places at the Blues for probably the first time in a decade.
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Assistant coach Tom Coventry will hope Black makes picking the wearer of the No 10 jersey as challenging as possible for selectors once Barrett is back.
"Otere has been a big mover for us," Coventry said. "He's kicking well – he nailed that penalty to win us the game in the last couple of minutes against the Bulls. He's directing us around the field marvellously and his composure at the moment is really high.
"He's going well and it's up for Beauden to come back in there and prove he's a better option than Oats at the moment. We're thrilled with the way Oats is going."
Black, who is also a former Hurricane, is looking forward to a Wellington return with the assistance of another playmaker – fullback Stephen Perofeta, who began the season as the Blues' No 10.
"A lot of teams are using that [dual playmaker] tactic these days and it's a big part of how we want to play. It definitely helps. He's been playing some awesome footy over the last couple of weeks and we want to build that combination.
"It's always tough coming up against Kiwi teams – it's always an exciting brand of rugby. I'm sure people love watching it. It will be an awesome challenge this weekend. The Canes are in pretty good form and we're looking forward to bringing some form back from Africa."