Rugby World Cup: Mark Telea cherishing every opportunity in star-studded All Blacks backline

What a difference a year makes.

After impressive back-to-back wins to open their Rugby Championship account, All Blacks coach Ian Foster is suddenly spoiled for choice in the outside backs.

New Zealand have scored 11 tries in victories over Argentina and South Africa, with two sets of different wingers feasting on the desperate defence.

From Mendoza to Mt Smart, Caleb Clarke and Emoni Narawa were replaced by Mark Telea and Will Jordan, but the result was much the same.

With the World Cup less than two months away, places are still very much up for grabs, with no competition hotter than the wing spots.

In-form Crusaders star Leicester Fainga'anuku is due to return from a calf injury, so Saturday's first Bledisloe Cup test against Australia will act as one of the last opportunities for his rivals to stake their claim.

Regular right wing Mark Telea hopes his versatility to cover the left will see him make the trip to France and be part of an environment he's still adapting to, since making his debut in 2022.

"I'm not that comfortable, but you just take it as it comes," he said. "When you get an opportunity to play in a team like this, you just go with it.

"You just roll with the punches, don't look back, cherish every moment, and try and get better every day as a team and as a player.

"As Anton [Lienert-Brown] said, I'm trying to learn how to play No.10, so watch out boys," he joked."

With the likes of Chiefs star Shaun Stevenson waiting in the wings as injury cover, there is no shortage of competition in the All Blacks camp.

Telea is keeping his feet firmly grounded, with his eyes only on their next opposition, but believes their newfound depth can only be a good thing.

"For us, it's just week by week," he said. "We just focus on the games we have and we trust the coaches will help us get through our week.

"We just focus on the games ahead of us, and those [World Cup] games will come when they come and we look forward to that.

"It's good. It gets everyone competitive and makes you realise that not everything is going to be easy, and you can just walk in and grab a spot.

"Heaps of the group are competitive and, for us, we just come in and do our jobs, trust one another and whoever gets the position, gets the position. We all work hard for it."

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