Warren Gatland insists British and Irish Lions sensation Jamie Roberts will not be pressed into emergency full-back duty when Wales tackle New Zealand next week.
Wales boss Gatland must find a replacement for 22-year-old Roberts’ fellow Lion Lee Byrne in the number 15 shirt.
Byrne is out of the entire autumn series - Wales also face Samoa, Argentina and Australia - due to a foot injury.
Gatland’s 29-man autumn Test squad does not include a specialist full-back, and his choice for the All Blacks clash would appear to be a straight one between Leigh Halfpenny and James Hook.
Roberts started the first Test of Wales’ 2008 South Africa tour as Gatland’s last line of defence, but an impressive run at inside centre means a temporary change of position can be ruled out.
Gatland offered a categoric “no” to questions suggesting he might consider moving 6ft 4in Roberts, who has emerged on current form as arguably European rugby’s most destructive inside centre.
His midfield partnership with Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll on the Lions’ three-Test trip to South Africa this summer proved a major tour highlight.
Gatland said: “When I first saw Jamie train, he had been playing on the wing for Cardiff, and I said to Rob Howley (Wales assistant coach) I thought he was a midfielder.
“He caused a huge amount of problems for the South Africans over in South Africa for the Lions, and I think potentially he could be one of the best centres in the world, going forward.
“I think he has found his spot. He is only going to get better as a 12 - the more he plays there, the more experience he gets.
“You can see him aged 25 or 26, with a number of caps under his belt, being one of the best players in the world.”
Halfpenny, who made his Test debut as a 19-year-old wing against South Africa last November, could fill Byrne’s vacancy.
And while the likes of former Wales full-back great JPR Williams have urged Gatland not to consider Hook as Byrne’s direct replacement, he is an option who will also be assessed.
Gatland is due to announce his starting line-up on Monday for a game that will see Wales targeting their first victory over New Zealand since 1953.
“We’ve got some options at full-back with Leigh, and perhaps James Hook,” Gatland added.
“We’ve been talking about someone like James, with the talent he has as a player, to find somewhere on the field for him to play.
“As a footballer, we all know what quality James brings to a game of rugby, and it maybe on these few occasions that we do play him at full-back.
“We are going to see how training goes.”