Richie Mo'unga could hardly have wished for a better send-off as he prepares to fly out to play for the Barbarians against the All Blacks at Twickenham next weekend.
The Canterbury No10 was a major reason why his side claimed their ninth national provincial title in 10 years with a 35-13 victory over Tasman at AMI Stadium. He scored Canterbury's first two tries to help them back into the match after an early setback, and proved to be a thorn in Tasman's side all evening.
He leaves today for London for a week of socialising and occasional practice with the BaaBaas before linking with the All Blacks in France.
Tasman coach Leon MacDonald, who knows plenty about the first-five's ability through his time with the Crusaders, just wished he had caught an earlier flight.
With Mo'unga, 23, on All Blacks duty in Brisbane as cover for the injured Beauden Barrett, Canterbury struggled at times in their semifinal against North Harbour, but the cutting edge he provided on attack for the home side meant once they regained the lead on halftime meant they were always going to be extremely hard to beat.
"He must have broken 20 tackles tonight, he was fantastic wasn't he? He is a class player," MacDonald said afterwards. "We knew he was going to be a guy we had to contain and we talked about it throughout the week. But talking about it, and doing it is two different things. We would have liked to have seen him on the All Blacks tour to be fair. It might have made our night a bit easier."
Mo'unga broke former Canterbury player Tom Taylor's points-scoring record in a domestic final with his haul of 25, and his second try - from a kick he received on the halfway line - was spectacular.
A major part of the Crusaders as they swept to the Super Rugby title this year, Mo'unga's development will continue in Europe over the coming weeks to the point where he is likely to provide the All Blacks selectors with a genuine extra option next year.
For Tasman, who upset the odds when beating competition leaders Taranaki in New Plymouth in their semifinal, it was a disappointing way for their season to finish. Their commitment could not be questioned and no one illustrated that more than No8 Jordan Taufua, who played on in the first half despite the pain of a suspected broken arm and was replaced against his wishes early in the second.
"He would live and die out there for the team, the province," Tasman captain Alex Ainley said with reference to Taufua.
"And he had to be dragged off the field. That was what happened in the end, when the doctor pulled him off the park. I don't think it was his say."
Taufua's injury could keep him off the field for the early part of the Crusaders' season. Coach Scott Robertson will hoping that nothing happens to Mo'unga over the coming weeks.