There's no doubt New Zealand Rugby have had to compromise more than they ideally wanted to keep Sam Whitelock.
In October last year, the big man was ready to leave New Zealand after the World Cup. He probably wasn't in the best frame of mind to be making major decisions about his future as he was physically shattered.
Back-to-back title-winning seasons with the Crusaders and 24 tests in 16 months had just about broken him.
NZR had to negotiate him back from the brink. He and his young family had been sold on the idea of going to Japan.
But did it need to be for two years? What if he went for one season, skipped Super Rugby in 2020 and could be guaranteed that he would be eligible to play in the July test series against Wales?
So NZR put that to him on the condition he commit for another four years.
This state of affairs has been heralded as unprecedented and to some it is being viewed as the start of a slippery slope where the big name players hold all the power and will be able to force all sorts of concessions to create a lopsided landscape where they are not held accountable to the same rules as everyone else.
But it's certainly not unprecedented and nor does it signal any change in the balance of power.
The big name players in New Zealand have long held the power. For more than a decade now NZR have been willing to accommodate those it sees as invaluable and make compromise agreements with them that they won't for others.
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The game-changer was Daniel Carter in 2008 when he came out of the disappointing 2007 World Cup disillusioned by the way that whole business had played out.
He, like Whitelock, was ready to leave at the end of 2008. He'd had enough and a three-year contract was agreed with Perpignan.
Carter's position was genuine – he was deadly serious about moving to France, changing his mind only when NZR pro-actively came up with the idea of him going to Perpignan for six months.
The national body paved the way for him to miss Super Rugby in 2009 and granted him an exemption to be immediately available for the All Blacks once he returned in July as long as he signed a three-year extension through to the 2011 World Cup.
It was, bar the offshore destination and duration of the contract, exactly the same deal that has been put to Whitelock.
Carter had clearance to be immediately available for test football on his return, but that fact tends to get lost as he ripped his Achilles a few weeks after he arrived in France and didn't recover until August, returning to action first through his club then Canterbury, before playing the Wallabies in Sydney.
In most respects, the contract signed by Richie McCaw in 2011 wasn't so different, either.
The All Blacks skipper negotiated the right to take six months off rugby during his four-year extension and while it wasn't stipulated as such when he put pen to paper, it was all but pre-agreed he'd skip Super Rugby in 2013 and the June tests and return to action in July.
If he'd said he'd wanted to play for an offshore club for the first six months of 2013 and be immediately available for the All Blacks in June, it's unlikely NZR would have said no.
Exemptions have been made whenever it has suited the NZR and whenever they think it has been to their advantage as much to the player's.
Ali Williams was allowed to play a handful of club games in Nottingham in early 2011. He'd missed the better part of the last two years with a snapped Achilles and the All Blacks coaches were worried about him returning to action directly on the hard grounds of New Zealand.
So he played in the English winter for a month to break himself in before returning to the Blues.
The list goes on and on. Ma's Nonu was allowed to play in Japan after the 2011 World Cup that year and then return to the Blues in February.
Luke McAlister was granted an exemption to be available for the All Blacks in June 2009 after he had finished up with English club Sale just two weeks earlier.
Last year, even, Matt Todd was granted an exemption to tour with the All Blacks in October and November despite the fact he was playing for a Japanese club.
The point, surely, is history was not made this week with Whitelock's contract and nor is NZR's position weakened by what they have agreed.
Nor will every elite player find the lure of playing offshore as part of a sabbatical agreement irresistible.
Beauden Barrett, for instance, could put millions in his bank account from a short-term offshore stint, but he is believed to see taking a total break from rugby as a more valuable means to enhance his career.
He won't be the only star All Black to make that choice in future and it sells the players short to imagine they will all push to play offshore as part of longer term NZR contracts just because the money is attractive.
Some will, some won't just as has been the case since 2008 so the Whitelock contract is not any kind of flashpoint but a continuation of a market that can be manipulated by those players who have the power to do so.
Since Carter threatened to walk away from New Zealand when he was 25, NZR has been willing to compromise for some while refusing to budge for others.
That's how free markets work – those with leverage can always use it.