Opinion: Ross Karl predicts his All Blacks backs for France series

OPINION: Unlike at No.8, the real questions in the All Blacks backline aren't over who starts, but who fills out the squad.

There's a third halfback to find by the World Cup next year.

Will Crusaders bench player Mitchell Drummond be selected over young Chiefs livewire Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi to back up Aaron Smith and TJ Perenara?

Drummond offers a certain degree of reliability, but Tahuriorangi seems to be the flavour of the season for the All Blacks selectors, who will likely prefer his blend of strong running and quick service.

Will Anton Lienert-Brown or Jack Goodhue get the nod to back up Ryan Crotty, SBW and Ngani Laumape in the midfield?

Opinion: Ross Karl predicts his All Blacks backs for France series

Goodhue's been looming as a glue guy of this NZ group and they clearly see some promise there, but I think it'll be hard for them to go past ALB, given the loyalty they've displayed in the past.

Laumape's ability to break the advantage line is highly-valued by the ABs brass, and SBW and Crotty are no-brainers.

The selectors have made no secret of the fact that they want McKenzie in a No. 10 jersey and he may just earn the second-string berth ahead of Richie Mo'unga.

Ben Lam's enjoyed a breakthrough year for the Hurricanes, but there's just too much talent in the outside backs for him to crack the group... yet.

The choices in the backs could be a good nod to who has the upperhand in World Cup contention.

Ross Karl is Newshub rugby editor. Stay tuned to Newshub Sport for all the reaction from the All Blacks squad announcement from 9:30am on Sunday