Kiwi rugby fans spent all Super Rugby Aotearoa season waiting for the chance to see Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo'unga go head to head.
By a cruel twist of fate, it was a match-up that never eventuated but now it will happen twice in a month.
After the two top first five-eighths in the country duelled in the North v South match at the start of the month, they will meet against this afternoon with more than just island bragging rights on the line.
Canterbury will host Taranaki in the second round of the Mitre 10 Cup today, in their first Ranfurly Shield defence of the regular season.
The last time the two sides met with the Log o' Wood on the line was in 2017, and produced an instant classic.
Canterbury went up 31-7 inside the opening 27 minutes before Taranaki staged one of the greatest comebacks in Shield history to win 55-43 — with the Bulls scoring 48 points in the final 47 minutes.
In recent years, the provincial stage has been bereft of All Blacks due to the international schedule. This time around, there will be plenty of firepower in both teams, with All Blacks and Super Rugby regulars on both sides of the park.
"I know Ranfurly Shield games aren't like any other game," Mo'unga said. "They're tough, they're test-like, they're like finals footy. It's the team that turns up on the day and puts the most amount of pressure on will win the game. But we're enjoying being in this environment again and mixing it up with the younger guys, getting them up to speed and just enjoying every day."
All Blacks coach Ian Foster has been open about the race for the All Blacks' No 10 jersey being between Barrett and Mo'unga, and with Bledisloe Cup fixtures now confirmed for mid-October, this will be the last chance to see the pair in competition.
For Barrett, who last week played his first game for Taranaki since 2012, today's match could be his last for the next few weeks. He and his wife Hannah are expecting their first child soon, and Barrett told Gold AM he was preparing to be on paternity leave after the Ranfurly Shield clash.
Barrett has experienced a successful challenge before, as part of the winning Taranaki side against Southland in 2011. In that game, Taranaki won 15-12, with all points coming from penalty goals.
"Every time you get the opportunity to play for it, it's a great week and a big occasion," Barrett said. "I'm really happy to be back in the amber and black and to have a Shield challenge second game up, we can't wait.
"They've got a few All Blacks in that team. You look at that team on paper and see a lot of Crusaders as well. They're a pretty strong side and we've got to be on our A game to compete on the weekend. We're working our butts off to turn up and hopefully bring it back to the Naki."
The other big clash in the Mitre 10 Cup this weekend comes tomorrow afternoon, when Auckland host Wellington. Auckland have named an unchanged starting XV following their 38-6 opening victory over Otago, with Zarn Sullivan coming in for Simon Hickey, who hasn't recovered from a shocking hit from Sio Tomkinson last week. All Blacks lock Patrick Tuipulotu remains sidelined with an Achilles tendon niggle.
Wellington will have most of their All Blacks available as they attempt to recover from a terrible 53-28 defeat to Waikato.
Although Dane Coles is still out, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara and Asafo Aumua all start, while Peter Umaga-Jensen will get to press his claims for a spot on the plane to Australia for the Rugby Championship as he earns a start in the midfield.
Wellington coach Leo Crowley is expecting better from his side.
"While obviously disappointed with last week's performance, the team has had another week together to fine-tune a lot of our play."
Canterbury: Josh McKay, Manasa Mataele, Isaiah Punivai, Rameka Poihipi, George Bridge, Richie Mo'unga, Mitchell Drummond, Cullen Grace, Tom Christie, Reed Prinsep, Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano, Oli Jager, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody. Reserves: Shilo Klein, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Fletcher Newell, Mitchell Dunshea, Billy Harmon, Ereatara Enari, Brett Cameron, Andrew Knewstubb.
Taranaki: Jordie Barrett, Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, Sean Wainui, Teihorangi Walden, Lewis Ormond, Beauden Barrett, Lisati Milo-Harris, Kaylum Boshier, Lachlan Boshier, Mitchell Crosswell, Tupou Vaa'i, Josh Lord, Ben May, Ricky Riccitelli, Reuben O'Neill. Reserves: Bradley Slater, Jared Proffit, Donald Brighouse, Jack Jordan, Tom Florence, Warwick Lahmert, Jayson Potroz, Braydon Northcott-Hill.
* You can follow every Mitre 10 Cup match live on nzherald.co.nz, with commentaries on Gold AM.