The silver lining to this lockdown-impacted year is the prospect of New Zealand reaching 2023 with a handful of veteran players still charging about in test football when they otherwise might not have made it that far.
Some may see that as a scant reward for the pain suffered this year but it's not at all – it's a rich prize that could deliver rich rewards. Such as a World Cup.
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If that's viewed as a dramatic, baseless statement think of it like this – could the All Blacks really win the next World Cup if Aaron Smith is not there, in prime condition and capable of playing at least 70 minutes in the big games?
The answer to that, right now, is probably not. The All Blacks need him more than they ever have and that won't change between now and 2023.
There are other options at halfback and maybe, should Smith fall over or be drained by the volume of football he will endure in the next three years, they will fill the void and give the All Blacks some hope of success in France.
It's a big maybe, though, because right now neither TJ Perenara nor Brad Weber are able to wield anywhere near the same influence as Smith.
They are good, whereas Smith is outstanding. They bring a number of skills whereas Smith brings an entire suite and keeping the veteran halfback in tip-top shape is close to a number one priority for the All Blacks coaching staff now and the disrupted calendar of 2020 is a more than useful tool in that regard.
Hopefully what 2020 has done is add at least another year or 18 months on to the career of older athletes. The lack of rugby, the greater recovery times and the prolonged periods of inactivity to recondition and rebuild are unprecedented and as frustrating as they are now as the world screams out for games to be played, they will pay dividends down the track.
If this year ends up being credited with preserving Smith through to the next World Cup, it will have been worth it.
When this season kicked off in late January, Smith would have been thinking that 2023 was an awful long way away.
There was an incredible amount of rugby for him to play to make it that far. There were thousands of training hours, hundreds of impacts and endless recovery sessions on his horizon.
But amazingly, he's most likely reached late August 2020 in better shape than he was in at the start of the season. And because of that, the prospect of making it to France may not seem so daunting.
The journey is not so far or arduous now and while he'll be close to 35 by the time the next tournament rolls around, he may not feel that old at all.
There's no definitive science on this, but the evidence is strong that the key to longevity is giving the body a chance to recover from the toll brought on by incessant collisions and impacts.
That's why Brodie Retallick is holed up in Hawke's Bay and is another who will now, all things going to plan, reach 2023 in the sort of physical condition he never would have had the world not been shut down.
Taking himself to Japan for two seasons was always going to help his chances of reaching 2023 in one piece, but the lockdown has multiplied that effect by an unknown positive factor.
He's not played for five months – and isn't due to return to Japan until November and if ever there was a man who needed months away from the game and months away from collisions and impacts, it was Retallick.
Between July 2017 and July 2019, he broke bones, dislocated things and literally tore pieces of himself off his frame.
The cycle was vicious – he'd recover, return with minimal rugby behind him and something would go snap again. It wasn't sustainable. The best lock New Zealand has produced since Colin Meads was going to be broken by the endless demands of an endless season.
His body was screaming for mercy and while playing in Japan offered some kind of relief, not playing at all has been a God-send for the big lock.
Nothing heals like extended time off and how many good years Retallick has left is debatable, but with some certainty we can predict that he now has at least three and will be rampaging in France.
To lesser degrees this disrupted year should enable Sam Whitelock to stay the course. It should help Beauden Barrett retain that blinding acceleration so he remains the world's most attacking force for the next three years and possibly, although it may be a stretch too far, it could enable Dane Coles to think seriously about trying to play through to 2023.
It's hard to see it now, but 2020 has sewn some unexpected seeds for 2023.