Little fanfare greeted Mark Robinson's anointment as New Zealand Rugby chief executive last September. Seven months on, while gumboot-deep wading through widespread challenges, the scale of his task is fast becoming apparent.
Robinson did his time, serving as Taranaki Rugby chief executive, on the NZ Rugby board and the executive World Rugby council. Tick, tick, tick.
There's much more to him than those credentials — he studied political science and philosophy at Cambridge — but the former All Blacks midfielder was Steve Tew's natural successor.
At the time of his appointment, with the World Cup appraoching, Robinson faded into the background.
After the semifinal defeat, the nation swiftly debated who should replace All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen. Ian Foster got that gig; the merits of his appointment over Scott Robertson widely chewed.
Following Hansen's 86 per cent win record — 10 losses from 108 tests over eight years — is, indeed, a daunting prospect.
And yet in many respects, Robinson faces a tougher job.
In a rapidly shifting landscape more issues spring from every board paper and coronavirus report.
Mitigating the ramifications of suspending all rugby form the immediate focus but there are many other concerns too.
Last week Robinson attended World Rugby meetings in Paris where lobbying began ahead of a critical vote in May for the chairmanship — and direction — of the global game.
That vote is expected to pit the progressive Agustin Pichot against Bill Beaumont's status quo. Who New Zealand throws its support behind is but one issue facing rugby's future.
Other facets can be grouped in three categories — competitions, participation and revenue.
In all these areas, Robinson sits atop New Zealand's decision-making tree.
Next year, the Rugby Championship will be revamped to embrace two-match tours but, beyond that, the competition is expected to expand and include Japan and Fiji.
The new five-year broadcast agreement which kicks in next year covers the existing format but the Weekend Herald understands expansion could happen as early as 2023.
Under the expansion vision, Fiji may eventually play some home fixtures in destinations such as Singapore to mitigate travel should South Africa's presence continue, and there is potential for Eden Park or venues in Australia to hold test double-headers to maximise gate takings and interest.
There is also a renewed push for the creation of a second-tier Rugby Championship which would embrace promotion and relegation and could include the likes of Samoa and Tonga.
Super Rugby will revert to a round-robin format from next season. Another new structure will be given time to bed in but deeply-concerning viewership and attendance figures in New Zealand this season leaves this competition vulnerable to further changes in the not-too-distant future.
Longer term, some form of Asia-Pacific competition is a possibility.
While this prospect centres on Japan's involvement, should it eventually materialise, NZR is likely to review their policy of selecting All Blacks only from New Zealand teams. Selection could be expanded to include all competition partners.
On the subject of eligibility, Robinson is sympathetic towards the plight of the Pacific Island and this could lead to changing the rules in which players who represent Tonga, Fiji and Samoa are classed as foreign Super Rugby players in New Zealand.
Anxiety is high among provincial union bases after the McKinsey review recommended cost-cutting, including the centralisation of academies and talent identification.
Robinson hails from Opunake and, having led Taranaki, he has an appreciation for the importance the provinces play in the fabric of New Zealand rugby. Those ideals must, however, be balanced against commercial realities.
As the offshore player drain continues to bite depth, culling unions who help nurture the next generation doesn't make sense, but significantly reducing the provincial salary cap, which sits around $1.025 million per union, is one avenue that may be explored. To retain all 14 teams, New Zealand's third tier must be financially viable.
One way or another, private investment is coming to Southern Hemisphere rugby.
CVC Capital Partners have already hoovered up 27 per cent stakes in England's Premiership Rugby and the Pro14, which features teams from Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Italy and South Africa, for a combined £320 million ($660m).
The Six Nations is next in line with an expected £300m deal for a 14 per cent stake in European rugby's pinnacle event close to sign off.
CVC aren't the only private investors circling but they have the jump on others. Discussions are believed to be under way with Sanzaar partners about striking a similar agreement to those already acquired in the north.
CVC's vision is thought to centre on bringing greater meaning and interest to international fixtures outside World Cups, and creating some form of cross-hemisphere club playoff pitting the best in the south against the best in the north.
There may also be new opportunities in the way of player draft models and possibly scope to explore a Sanzaar Lions team or even a New Zealand north-south fixture.
Everything sits on the table.
Elsewhere, New Zealand Rugby is close to renewing its agreement with adidas that may lead to fixtures being staged in Germany, and positive interest has been logged about replacing AIG's sponsorship, valued at $80m over the first five years.
Financially, these are fraught times.
In his role coaching the Cambridge under-14s, Robinson understands the role secondary schools must play in addressing the lost generations of rugby teenagers.
There's no silver bullet solution to this problem but savings from the provincial game could be redistributed to secondary school roles in an effort to connect with all teenage rugby prospects, not solely those who want to progress to the professional ranks.
As habits and demographics continue to diversify, New Zealand Rugby has already announced the formation of a new national under-85kg league.
There are thoughts that expanding Rippa Rugby to older age groups and creating some form of force back competition, which retains essential skills, could also help regain interest.
Pull together these myriad challenges and it's easy to appreciate the vexed era Robinson faces.
Change, in most cases, creates natural conflict. No matter which direction Robinson guides New Zealand rugby he is sure to evoke polarising views, and make mistakes along the way.