I sometimes wonder if TJ Perenara is delighted or frustrated with his career.
Maybe his feelings lie somewhere in between.
He's had - perhaps - the weirdest job in New Zealand rugby for many years, forever stuck in one of rugby's largest shadows.
Perenara came on as a replacement against the American Eagles and had some good moments and not so good, which sums up his All Black career.
Perenara's timing is unfortunate, because his career is coinciding with that of Aaron Smith, a halfback genius who seems to be getting better with age.
Smith may have had one slight dip in his career, but his livewire brilliance - from perfect passes to pinpoint punts - means the All Black No 9 jersey has been his domain for a long time.
Despite halfback being an exhausting position, and Smith's highly energetic game, he can play long minutes.
Smith is so central to how the All Blacks like to play the game - fast - that there is a reluctance to take him off the field. His constant cajoling and backslapping is probably a motivational weapon in itself.
Looking at the various elements in his game, I think the skills were there for Perenara to make a huge mark in international rugby.
But the Wellingtonian has barely had a look in. And when he does, the pressure to stand out probably works against him at times.
There are some far more extreme examples of the understudy dilemma from days past - just ask Warren Gatland, a four-year All Black who never played a test match thanks to an indestructible legend named Sean Fitzpatrick.
At least Perenara gets plenty of games, but this is surely not the All Black career he dreamed of.
Getting a replacement gig in a well-established romp over a hopeless America team sums the situation up.
Perenara is no shrinking violet - I'm told he isn't exactly a favourite with referees because of his chat.
He certainly has a cocky on-field persona. Most sports people who get to the top have a highly competitive nature not conducive to accepting second place to either friend or foe.
Halfbacks being what they are, willing understudy isn't their natural habitat anyway.
It must have been a tough gig sometimes, fulfilling your ambitions by making the All Blacks, yet knowing deep down there is virtually no chance of grabbing pole position.
All that training, fitness work, energy, scheming - a lot of it no doubt done in tandem with Smith - all for the sake of fourth quarter test cameos. No wonder he seriously flirted with a league bid.
The gap between other recent greats and the challengers has been much greater.
Once Luke Romano faded away, Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock were in a lock league of their own.
Ma'a Nonu, Dan Carter, Jerome Kaino, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw, Conrad Smith - they ruled to the extent the names of their understudies are hard to even recall.
Yes, Ardie Savea had to bide his time, but now he's thriving.
The 32-year-old Smith's absence from this northern tour may even help extend his career.
At the age of 29, with over 70 tests under the belt, Perenara is still waiting.
It's too late now, but shoddy contests like the All Blacks' romp over the under-manned American team should not count towards test statistics.
Will Jordan has scored an incredible 15 tries in 10 tests, but eight of those scores have come against club-standard Tongan and American sides in games which were basically training runs.