For the past decade, Richie McCaw has been the kingpin of the All Blacks, the jewel in the crown of the world's best team. So often he has bailed them out in tight situations, with his intelligence, physicality and work rate unmatched by any other player in the game today.
Having chosen to take a sabbatical during the start of 2013, McCaw is unavailable for the All Blacks' upcoming test series against France. He will no doubt be a huge loss. But he cannot stay young forever, and this window will act as a good opportunity to blood a new player to fill the All Blacks No. 7 in the post-McCaw era.
This list looks at five of the most likely contenders to fill the jersey for the impending series in June.