All Blacks royalty Richie McCaw was measured in his assessment of the head-to-head race for the coveted number-seven jersey between Sam Cane and Super Rugby standout Ardie Savea.
The 38-year-old is uniquely qualified to pass judgement. The two-time World Cup winner is considered one of the best to ever wear it through a decorated 148-test career that spanned almost 15 years.
A self-professed "avid" Super Rugby watcher, McCaw has his finger on the pulse and admitted Savea's form has been impossible to ignore.
"He's going well isn't he?" McCaw told Newshub, when quizzed on Savea's recent play.
But with the athletic Savea and more defensively renowned Sam Cane both in sublime touch, the All Blacks brass has a difficult choice for the Rugby World Cup.
Steve Hansen says he won't start both as dual openside flankers and McCaw also has his reservations over that tactic, pointing to the balance that blindside Liam Squire's physical play and lineout ability brings.
"Having two really good guys in the same position... to get them both out on the field can be a positive, but it can also be a hindrance, if it's just for the sake of it."
Savea's been superb starting for the Hurricanes, but the conundrum is that he's probably a better impact player than Cane.
"Savea can cover all three positions, really. He has the ability to swap to other spots as the game goes on, so you've got some real options there."
It's a welcome dilemma for the All Blacks selectors, McCaw added, who added Crusaders flanker Matt Todd into that mix.
"It's a good spot to have, rather than scratching your head at who you're going to pick."
As for his beloved Crusaders' chances against the Hurricanes in Saturday's Super Rugby semi-final, McCaw was confident - with a dash of caution.
"They're in a great spot… it's been impressive to watch, but once you get knockout footy, anything can happen.
"The first 30 minutes of last week was pretty rugged… a couple of things perhaps went the Crusaders way that they capitalised on and that can be the difference in these big games.
"I think this weekend will be a real battle."
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