The great days of legendary All Blacks locking combination Brodie Retallick-Sam Whitelock may be close to the end.
They say fear ripped through a rugby nation when Ben Smith went down with a nasty-looking injury during the Highlanders clash with the Chiefs.
Fear not, because the fate of the All Blacks cannot rest on one man.
Fear again though, because it rests very heavily upon two.
Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock are the greatest lock pairing in the history of rugby, their closest rivals being the yin and yang South African act of Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha.
Retallick has been so unbelievably good at times he's managed to put Whitelock in the shade, an impossible job for any other lock who has ever played the game.
Most people's all-time All Black side would have Retallick and Colin Meads as the locks. Many would have Whitelock as the next cab off the rank.
While the differences between Retallick and Whitelock may not have been as obvious as those between the slender Matfield and powerhouse Botha, they have also had their own areas of strength.
Retallick has been king on the ground, Whitelock rules the air. They have been at the heart of an era where old All Black lineout problems and scrum scares were a thing of the past, replaced by mastery of the set pieces.
As a combination, they have given the All Blacks an unbelievable base to work from, of near perfect locks individually and in tandem. Retallick in particular took the position to new levels, with his passing game and unbelievable motor.
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It was no coincidence that when Ireland chose Chicago to turn Al Capone and shoot holes in the aura of All Black invincibility, Retallick and Whitelock weren't there.
And now, if reports about impending player movement are correct, Retallick won't be here next year.
Retallick's new contract will apparently involve two club seasons in Japan, and he won't appear in Super Rugby or for the All Blacks during 2020.
Good luck, to all those Japanese club players trying to deal with the big man.
And good luck to the All Blacks.
We've been able to jot down Retallick and Whitelock in the four and five jerseys for so long that you almost take it for granted, like saying McCaw, Read, Kaino.
It would be prematurely pessimistic to outright predict that the great days of Whitelock and Retallick will end at this year's World Cup.
But there are no guarantees that an extended stint in Japan will leave Retallick — who turns 28 next month — the great player he once was. The body may start to tire, the mind may wander elsewhere.
Whitelock, celebrating a new four-year contract, will be 35 by the next World Cup and admits he thought about quitting New Zealand after this years' tournament.
You can sense little cracks in what was once the surest bet in world rugby. Retallick had some off moments last year, and gets a few injuries. Whitelock — while still prominent — became tired and lacked his usual impact as 2018 wore on.
Scott Barrett aside, I don't see anyone on the horizon remotely in the Whitelock and Retallick league.
Barrett lacks the impressive physical dimensions of Whitelock and Retallick, as do a couple of the other locks being touted as replacements.
This year's Japan World Cup may be the farewell moment for the All Blacks' extraordinary locking partnership in its peak condition.
And after that, retaining All Black supremacy will become a much tougher ask.