WELLINGTON - Those assuming the All Blacks World Cup-winning loose forward trio will be reunited this week shouldn't be too hasty, Jerome Kaino says.
No.8 Kieran Read is a strong chance to return for the third Test against England in Hamilton on Saturday after spending two months shaking off concussion symptoms.
If Read is restored for his first Test of the year, Kaino is favoured to head off Liam Messam for the starting blindside flanker berth in the team to be named today.
Read's selection will depend on the outcome of further concussion tests following contact training this week.
The 2013 World Player of the Year has played once since suffering a head knock while playing for the Crusaders eight weeks ago.
Messam has been one of New Zealand's most consistent performers since the World Cup grasping his chance when Kaino relocated to Japan and forming an industrious flanker partnership with captain Richie McCaw.
Kaino, 31, says he is "patchy" at No.8 in the 28-27 second Test win in Dunedin on Saturday, following a strong return to the All Blacks in the 20-15 win at Auckland a week earlier, and believes he is no certainty to keep his starting berth.
"Liam's played well there the last couple of years and Kieran's a world class player," Kaino said.
"No doubt he'll slot straight into that No.8 jersey. I'll be happy wherever I fit in, whether it's starting or not."
The All Blacks selectors are poised to keep the same tight five that stood tall in Dunedin, while the back three should be unchanged despite an error-ridden outing from wing Cory Jane.