Every All Blacks World Cup-winning team has had a rock at centre.
Jack Goodhue continues a line that has a tradition of clear thinking and accurate execution, started by Joe Stanley in 1987, and carried on in 2011 and 2015 by Conrad Smith.
The three men have very different backstories, in both life and sport. Stanley was a city kid, born in Auckland to immigrant parents from Samoa.
The first national selector to pay any attention to him was Kiwis coach Ron Ackland.
In 1978, when Stanley was playing league in Northland, Ackland called him into a training camp in Hunua. A brutal road run and a wicked set of blisters led to a mutual lack of interest in Stanley progressing further in league.
Smith was born and raised in Taranaki with an All Black uncle, 1960s lock Alan. Playing halfback at Francis Douglas Memorial College in New Plymouth, Smith was a champion runner, but not a good enough halfback to ever make a Taranaki age group or school side.
Wellington was the first representative team Smith ever played for, making the senior provincial team when he was a 21-year-old law student in the city.
• Phil Gifford: The good, the bad and the ugly from the World Cup sideshow alley
• Phil Gifford: The best and worst of the weekend's Rugby World Cup action
• Phil Gifford: The 45-year-old 'whippersnapper' shaking up World Rugby
Goodhue grew up on a dairy farm near Kawakawa in a rugby-mad family of four boys and one girl.
"Dad's been the club captain at United Kawakawa for at least 20 years now," Goodhue says, "mowing the grass, organising the registrations, taking the rubbish to the dump. And he's coached all of us."
What the trio of centres have in common is a sharp intelligence, and an ability to never let a big occasion get the better of them.
Stanley didn't make the All Blacks until he was 29, and remembers standing in the tunnel at Lancaster Park in 1986 waiting to run out against France for his first test thinking:
"These guys are the French, so unpredictable, the world's best, and here we are, a bunch of little ratbags shoved together, trying to do them over. On the other hand, I guess we were also thinking, 'What have we got to lose?'"
To the astonishment of the sporting world, they beat the then Six Nations champions 18-9.
Smith would say before the 2011 World Cup: "We haven't won many of these tournaments, in case you hadn't noticed, and we're determined to change that. So we have got to face reality.
"The best way to deal with it is front on, which we probably didn't do in the past. We swept it away and said, 'We're a different team and it's not going to affect us.' But it's something we have to deal with. It's part of our history."
The '11 team went on to hold their nerve and win the final 8-7 - the narrowest margin in Cup history.
Goodhue presents as someone with a maturity beyond his years.
The quarter-final with Ireland will be just the 12th test match for the 24-year-old, but it's hard to picture him being overwhelmed by the occasion.
Before Goodhue's first Bledisloe Cup test in Sydney last year his Crusaders and All Blacks teammate Ryan Crotty swore that on the field "sometimes I have to check that he's awake, he's so calm".
Part of the maturing process for Goodhue is that he had to deal with an injury so serious it kept him on the sidelines for eight months early in his career.
In June of 2015, Goodhue was in the New Zealand under-20 team that won the world title, beating England in the final in Cremona in Italy. Two months later his stellar season came to a crashing halt.
"In the second round of the ITM Cup, we (Canterbury) were playing against Counties, and as a Counties player was making a tackle, as sometimes happens, a leg swung round and caught me on the outside of my knee, which caused it to cave in."
As much as any player I've met in the professional era, Goodhue knows he needs balance in his life.
"I'm quite a man of faith and go to church when I can, which is good for me to get away from the rugby world. It's important to me.
"I also help out with Big Brothers and Big Sisters, which is a mentoring charity, which is nice. I don't have any little brothers, so I see this guy every week or so, and we'll just hang out.
"He's at intermediate school. It is important to find the time to take a break from rugby. You can get caught in the trap of thinking about the game all the time, so it becomes all-consuming and probably unhealthy."
Another trait Goodhue shares with Stanley and Smith is a quiet, but keen, sense of humour.
That mullet could only be worn by a man who doesn't take himself too seriously.
Stanley has the ability to verbally skewer pomposity while keeping a perfectly straight face. As for Smith, I once asked him live on Radio Sport if he had a lawyer joke up his sleeve.
Not missing a beat he replied, "Sure. Two lawyers are talking and one says, 'If you're billing a client, how much should a lawyer charge for time he's actually spent playing golf?' The other replies. 'That depends. Was the golfer a junior or senior partner?'"
As it happens, even in the cauldron of a rugby test, wit is one of the many attributes that makes Welshman Nigel Owens such a good referee. We should be grateful someone so self-possessed as him is in charge of what will be an emotionally electric game against Ireland.
Owens has faced bigger challenges than a footy game in his life. Nineteen years ago, when he was 24 and struggling with the fact he was gay, he took a bottle of whiskey, pills, and a shotgun, and climbed Bancyddraenan Mountain near his family's home in Wales, intending to commit suicide.
The combination of alcohol and drugs saw him fall into a coma, and he was rescued by a police helicopter.
After two days in intensive care came a life-changing conversation.
"My Mum said to me, 'If you ever do anything like that again then you may as well take me and your Dad with you because we don't want to live our life without you.'," Owens told The Sun earlier this year.
Owens is now so at peace with who he is that he once quipped after a crooked lineout throw: "I am straighter than that one".
Life experiences make us the people we are, and in Owens' case the courage he showed acknowledging his sexuality, and the trauma he went through before he did, must surely be an element in the fact he referees with the bravery of a man who knows that at the end of a game, no matter what the result is, it is just a game.
It's a mindset that should ensure his decisions at Tokyo Stadium will come from a calm, reasoned place.