We're getting very close now to All Blacks' selection time, you can expect a few names will be thrown around over the next week or so. There are a number of uncapped in-form players who simply have to be talked about.
Ben Lam is the obvious example. He's a player we mentioned earlier this year but his form has just got better and better. You can't ignore him. Yes, he's had some injuries and he's had some fantastic players to compete with who have forced him well down the pecking order. But he's thrown himself into the limelight this year and he's having a wonderful season.
Lam's form is better than some of the incumbents; but is there a place for him? I know they are very comfortable in saying "it is one thing to perform for a franchise but doing it in the All Blacks jersey is quite different". And that's very true. Lam is one player who will be discussed.
Another one is Jack Goodhue. You can't ignore his form. We've always had an abundance of midfielders in New Zealand but here's a youngster who's come through Mitre 10 Cup to Super Rugby and just keeps on improving. He is only 22 but you have to take notice and recognised his abilities; he needs to be in the All Blacks environment soon. I will be very surprised if Goodhue's name isn't called out.
The Chiefs' Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi is shaping as a likely All Blacks halfback option; that's already been indicated. His form has been good and, as another young player, the selectors must get him into that environment sooner rather than later to ensure they get the best out of him.
Knowing that Kieran Read is not going to be available, someone will need to fill the No.8 jersey for the Test series. Then we must also look for some back-up behind that.
There has been talk about Jordan Taufua, who has been around for a while. Akira Ioane is another and, again, his age is something you can't ignore. Ioane has been in that environment before, too. Although the Blues have struggled, Ioane has stood out and he's got certain parts of his game you can't coach - size and strength. You can see that when he carries the ball or throws his weight around. My vote would be for Ioane but the No.8 race is wide open.
There will be a few names written down in pencil but until they're inked in you just never know.
As for the weekend's action, it was good to see the Blues get a win. It was a game between two teams who didn't really set the world on fire, though. But it will be real boost for a struggling Blues camp while Australian rugby stakeholders will be shaking their collective heads and wondering what is going on. The trans-Tasman streak now sits at 38.
And it was fantastic for the Jaguares. It was great to see their emotion after having four wins in a row on the road. Few people saw that coming.
We have mentioned the Sharks in earlier columns and I think they are the real deal. A lot of people will ask what happened to the Highlanders but if you look a little closer, the Sharks are the resurgent outfit of South Africa right now. They are a team with some really good young talent, who are playing with confidence. They're exciting and some of those tries were fantastic. The Sharks were great on the road in New Zealand but now they are at home they are playing like men possessed.