All Blacks captain Kieran Read threw his support firmly behind Crusaders teammate Jordan Taufua, 26, with the number eight in contention to replace the injured skipper for the upcoming Test series with France next month.
Read, 32, will miss the series, having not recovered from a back injury picked up on the All Blacks' end of year tour last November.
Speaking to media having returned to Crusaders training today, Read spoke highly of the possibility of Taufua being selected for his first All Blacks stint.
"He's been great for us over the last few seasons," he said.
"He's slightly a different player to the traditional number eight or six. He's a great ball carrier and he hits really hard.
"He's been chipping away, and if he gets the chance I'm sure he'll do really well."
The All Blacks' squad for the France series is named on Sunday.