After Dan Carter made his return from an Achilles injury in 2009 by playing his first senior match for his Southbridge club in a humble corner of Christchurch, he was just as happy swapping beers and tales with his new teammates as he was passing his first major fitness test.
That has been the way with Carter, the man considered the best No10 in the world, and one who has never forgotten his roots; the man with the golden, as well as the common, touch.
On that mid-winter Saturday at Denton Oval in the working-class suburb of Hornby, Carter got through 80 minutes, scored a try, missed several kicks at goal, and ensured he and his teammates fully enjoyed the occasion afterwards. After the formalities at the ground, there was talk of the bar back at the club being kept open until the small hours. His dad, Neville, is a club stalwart.
Many from the small farming community of Southbridge will make the 45km trip north into town for the All Blacks' test against Argentina at AMI Stadium tomorrow night and as Carter faced up to his final match in the black jersey in the city, getting enough tickets to satisfy demand from friends and family was one of his biggest challenges.
After the test, he will sit with his teammates, including Richie McCaw - who is in the same position of beginning his long goodbye - and let the emotions sink in. Now is not the time, but although he has a cool exterior, significant milestones do effect him - his emotions at celebrating his 100th-test milestone at Twickenham in 2013, a test in which he suffered yet another leg injury, were testament to that.
"It was similar when I was playing for the Crusaders," Carter said. "There was a lot of talk about it being my last game and it wasn't until I'd finished playing and the season was over that the emotions started to hit me. It's a similar feeling, really. I'm preparing as I would for any test match and am concentrating on wanting to play well.
"In saying that, it's great to be starting the test here in Christchurch. I always love playing here and to think I won't be playing here again after this weekend in the black jersey, it will be a great experience to play in front of my friends and family and the great supporters here in Christchurch one last time."
This is a significant occasion for 33-year-old Carter, just as next week's will be if, fitness and selection permitting, he plays what will be his final test at Ellis Park in Johannesburg and after that ANZ Stadium in Sydney and Eden Park in Auckland, not to mention, potentially, Twickenham in October, should the All Blacks make the World Cup final.
His memories of his first test in Christchurch - a 31-23 victory over France at Lancaster Park a week after he made his debut in a wing over Wales in Hamilton - are sketchy, although he recalls wing Joe Rokocoko scoring all of the All Blacks' tries (three). His goalkicking, for so long a strength, was not as easily recalled.
Told he kicked four penalties and two conversions, he said: "I have no idea how many goals I kicked that night. It was a good night, was it?
"Luckily Rocks saved us and scored a few tries. I do remember that and I also remember the week was a little bit more unique playing in your home province. You get to spend a little bit more time at home, you catch up with friends and family, it's a great way to get away from the pressures of being an All Black."
He has now played 103 tests, and has scored a record 1477 test points, but there is little Carter takes for granted as far as the All Blacks are concerned. There is always pressure to perform and that will remain until the end of the year when he will attempt to play a significant part in winning a World Cup for the first time.
A man of the world and one of the highest-profile All Blacks in the team, Carter is happiest just doing his best for his mates, whether that's in the black jersey or the red and black of the Crusaders and Canterbury or the blue and white hoops of Southbridge.
"You definitely don't want to be going out there and doing it for yourself," he said. "It's a team game and it's what you can do as an individual to help the team. The beauty of this team is that all you've got to worry about is your job. There's so much trust that the guys around you will be doing exactly that."