Not everyone believes in the healing properties of sport. There are plenty of doubters, who for good reason, think that testosterone-fuelled environments where fame, money and temptation collide are in fact the cause rather than cure of some rugby players failing to meet societal expectation.
It is true that some souls are maybe not salvageable. That the culture of some sports teams enables those without a North Star to explore hedonistic wastelands without fear of recrimination or an understanding that what they are doing is wrong.
The NRL at the moment feels like it may be in the midst of a zombie apocalypse – riven with creatures stripped of all morality, roaming the seedier spots of Sydney in search of their next needless scandal.
Just as true, but maybe not so regularly proven, is that sport, rugby in particular and even more specifically the All Blacks, can also use their power for good.
Occasionally an angel falls, is picked up, their halo dusted off and with it, a life, and usually several others connected to it, is changed for the better.
The All Blacks, however much it may seem contrived or superficial to others, live by a value system that is powerful enough to force errant types to peer into the darkness of themselves and realise that they have to change.
But for a team to provide a road to redemption, two key factors must exist: the players and management have to be brave enough to offer a second chance and those in need of salvation have to want to find it.
Aaron Smith was one of those who caught sight of the void within himself five years ago and faced the prospect of his All Blacks career being terminated.
Probably worse, more damaging, was that he faced the prospect of never growing into the person he could be.
That's where things stood in October 2016 and five years later he has been named captain of the All Blacks on his 98th appearance for his country.
It's a story that melts even the most cynical and coldest heart. Smith could have been abandoned: left without the support, tools or opportunity to turn himself around.
When others may have shown him nothing but disdain, former All Blacks coach Steve Hansen wrapped an arm around Smith, told him he was family and that the All Blacks could save him if he was willing to let them.
What transpired was a young man hell bent on making all sorts of changes and working through his own demons to become a source of inspiration.
Smith's journey doesn't end this Saturday, but it's a big moment in time – proof of just how far he's come – that he has been entrusted with the captaincy.
It's a big moment for everyone who has been involved in his career – as he's had to battle for everything.
At 1.71m and 82kg, there were coaches throughout his school and age-grade days who said he was too small.
It was a view he encountered no matter how many good games he played. Each time he graduated to the next level, there were dissenting voices.
Against this backdrop of doubt, Smith has succeeded in becoming the greatest halfback New Zealand has produced and an increasingly effective and influential leader – something which is formally acknowledged by his elevation to the captaincy.
Reaching this point is vindication for all those he encountered along the way who were bold enough to see past the diminutive frame and imagine the impact he could have with his speed around the field and sharpness and accuracy of delivery.
But really, it's a reward for Smith who has become such an engaging and compelling figure in the national game: one of the few voices who can make himself heard in the elite sport's world where white noise can be deafening.
These days there is a maturity about Smith that alludes to the contentment he has found: hints that he no longer feels he has to prove everyone wrong all the time.
He's a father, a husband, a fiercely loyal Highlander and one of the most driven and dedicated professionals this country has produced.
His work ethic stands in comparison with that of another former captain, Richie McCaw, and he's probably never played better than he has this year.
Captaincy is a job that he has earned on the strength of not only the character he has shown to redirect his career, but also for the way he has mentored and influenced others in recent years.
Rugby does produce its share of boof-heads – broken people with hard wiring that can never be fixed.
But so too can it be the means by which a young person is saved from themselves, if they are willing, like Smith, to be saved.