By the time the All Blacks return from Europe, certainly before Super Rugby kicks off next year, they will have almost all their key men signed up for another two years at least.
From forecasting a probable mini exodus in 2020 and 2021, New Zealand Rugby has been pleasantly surprised to have barely lost a player of note to foreign predators since the last World Cup.
Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith, Dane Coles and Joe Moody are all staying to play at the next World Cup. At some stage in the next month or so, Ardie Savea, Codie Taylor and Sam Cane should finish off their negotiations and be locked in to go to France in 2023 and at the moment, it feels like New Zealand Rugby has an iron-grip on its playing base.
Scott Barrett, Patrick Tuipulotu, Brad Weber, Ofa Tuungafasi, TJ Perenara, Anton Lienert-Brown are also committed to New Zealand for at least another two seasons and with this sort of success rate, NZR will be confident they will be able to persuade Rieko Ioane, Richie Mo'unga and Jordie Barrett to commit for at least one more year each when their respective contracts end in late 2022.
Perhaps this is the one blessing of Covid – it created considerable uncertainty – economic, lifestyle, logistical and medical – about playing offshore and no doubt it persuaded a few players who were maybe thinking about chucking it all in here, rethink and hang around for a bit longer.
But what's had the most significant impact in driving up the retention rate has been NZR's willingness to sanction short-term playing deals in Japan.
Keeping the best players here is an expensive business. None of them come cheap and so NZR has, arguably, been quite clever in allowing the big budgets of Japan's leading clubs to do much of the heavy lifting.
Retallick, Whitelock, Barrett and Perenara have all spent time in Japan since the 2019 World Cup – time that served many different functions and came with considerable physical, mental and lifestyle benefits.
But these short deals would never have been considered had Japanese clubs not been offering life-changing financial packages that seemingly ranged from $1 million per season to $1.6m.
There was a recent report that suggested that only one New Zealander is among the 10 best paid players in the world.
It was a report that failed to realise that Barrett and Retallick picked up a reported $1.6m playing in Japan between January and May and have been earning an estimated $25,000 a week since they returned to New Zealand.
The attraction of Japan is that it turbo-charges individual bank accounts – enables leading players to earn in five months what would take them 18 months to two years to bank in New Zealand.
This is why Tuipulotu has headed to Japan and Damian McKenzie is going once his All Blacks commitments finish in November.
Being able to skip Super Rugby, earn the GDP of Costa Rica and be back in time to resume test duty is a win-win for the players and to date, has been classified much the same by NZR.
Without this tool, NZR would most likely have suffered the exodus it had forecast. Retallick and Whitelock would almost certainly have gone and not come back.
But as invaluable as the sanctioned Japanese sojourn has been to NZR, its days are numbered and it's improbable that any more will be sanctioned.
Tuipulotu and McKenzie are likely to be the last players, certainly this side of the next World Cup, who will be allowed to jump on the Japanese financial bullet train.
The fundamental reason why this has to stop is that Super Rugby doesn't stand a chance of ever recovering its credibility and standing if every year significant numbers of the best players are given a sick note from Matron to skip it.
If Super Rugby is ever going to stop being a drain on NZR's financial resources then it needs to be supported by a solid growth strategy and sold as a competition that matters – not one that key All Blacks are eager to find ways to miss.
What's intensified this need for NZR to take a stand is that they are unhappy with Rugby Australia's backflip over picking offshore players for the Wallabies – a change of heart that everyone fears will decimate Super Rugby sides across the Tasman.
NZR can't berate RA for letting their best drift offshore when they themselves are allowing much the same to happen in New Zealand albeit in a seemingly lower key, controlled manner.
New Zealand's retention work has been extraordinary since 2019, but it might struggle to enjoy the same success when it is not being done in partnership with Japan.