Today, the All Blacks selectors picked a rising star to take part in the North v South clash – but one who was convicted in court earlier this year. Will a second chance through rugby be a vehicle for change?
Highlanders lock Manaaki Selby-Rickit is going to once again see his name in headlines and once again hear protestations that those with rugby promise are able to escape justice.
This is his unavoidable fate now that he has been named in the South Island squad for the All Blacks trial that no one is quite managing to call an All Blacks trial.
• Premium - Gregor Paul: How the All Blacks equation has now changed
• Premium - Gregor Paul: One remarkable skill makes the Crusaders champions
• Premium - Gregor Paul: Common sense to break away from Sanzaar for Super Rugby's future
• Premium - Gregor Paul: The bold move that will see New Zealand Rugby freed from daft past
In January he was handed a four-match ban after being found guilty of assault in Invercargill and here he is now, much closer to All Blacks' selection than many may realise.
The 23-year-old has just about every quality the All Blacks are after at lock and wading through the six who have been picked for the inter-Island fixture, Selby-Rickit is the one who stacks up as the most likely to join Patrick Tuipulotu and Sam Whitelock when the national team is picked at the end of the month.
He's won his place on limited Super Rugby game-time which always serves as a big clue that a player has taken the fancy of the All Blacks selectors.
Jack Whetton and Pari Pari Parkinson have been the regular starters for the Highlanders yet Selby-Rickit has leapt ahead of them, suggesting the All Blacks coaches saw everything they wanted in his cameos to believe he could be a test footballer.
And of course if, and maybe even when, that moment comes, it will see him complete a journey that didn't look remotely possible seven months ago.
It will be a story that will be told on the pages of national newspapers and while some will find it inspiring – label it a tale of atonement, others will be adamant it's anything but.
Not everyone believes in rugby's restorative powers and not everyone will be willing to see Selby-Rickit's promotion to higher honours as a story of redemption.
In the tale of atonement, he's a young man, desperate to rebuild his life after making a terrible decision on a night out. In this version, he's a good man who did a bad thing, using his exposure to professional rugby to build the skills and positive experiences to patch up whatever flaw caused the system malfunction.
The opposing view is that rugby is a safe haven for offenders to be absolved of their sins whether they feel any kind of remorse or not.
There's a lobby which insists the national sport doesn't redirect wayward young men, but simply hides and protects them. The argument goes so far to state that there are different levels of justice in New Zealand: that those who are good at rugby will be granted leniency and opportunity they don't deserve while their victims suffer disproportionately.
This same situation came up last year as a result of the remarkably similar journey travelled by Sevu Reece.
Like Selby-Rickit, Reece appeared in court for assault and his career was saved by a late Super Rugby call-up by the Crusaders when they lost Israel Dagg for the year.
From being unemployed in January, Reece ended up a starting All Black six months later and went to the World Cup.
He paid his victim $750 in reparation and then earned 10 times that for every week he was at the tournament in Japan – which incensed those who believe rugby players are granted virtual immunity from true justice.
The rage is understandable but perhaps not sustainable on the balance of evidence.
Professional rugby teams never have been and still aren't paragons of virtue, but they are not riddled with endemic misogynist and alcohol-fuelled cultures of entitlement.
The 'better people make better All Blacks' mantra is taken seriously and pervades well beyond the national team.
Super Rugby clubs are serious and dedicated in their efforts to instil in their players a value system that will make them genuine pillars of the community.
Accepting there will always be recidivist offenders who will never reform, it still seems infinitely more progressive and hopeful to let those who transgress try to rebuild their lives in the supportive and transformational environments offered by professional rugby clubs.
Young people, nearly always, deserve a second chance and not everyone will like this fact, but it is so often in rugby's power to grant that opportunity and be the vehicle which drives change in those who need to be pushed in a different direction.
A second chance is the gift that rugby can give and the best way Selby-Rickit can take it is to play the house down for the South Island and win All Blacks selection.