Phil Gifford provides a quick guide to things that will happen before, and during, the World Cup in Japan. Some of them good, some of them silly, and some of them disquieting.
The selection announcement will be civilised
On Wednesday at Eden Park, when New Zealand Rugby's chairman, Brent Impey, reads out the names of the 31 players in the All Black squad, the players from the larger squad that have been cut will have already got a phone call from All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.
It hasn't always been so humane. The nadir in announcements was plumbed before the first Cup in 1987, when the players from the final trial were sitting uncomfortably at tables in the dining room of the Grand Hotel in Whangarei waiting for NZRU chairman, Russell Thomas, to read out what was then a 26 man squad.
Journalists and rugby officials were scattered amongst the trialists. At 6pm Thomas rose, in the glare of TVNZ lights, and, as he was broadcast live on ONE's Saturday evening news, read the names of the chosen few.
I was sitting next to midfielder Bernie McCahill. Across the table was lock Buck Anderson. McCahill heard that he'd become a new All Black. Anderson discovered he wasn't in the side.
In the foyer later McCahill noted that if there was a more crappy way to name a team he couldn't think of it. "I wanted to yell and shout and thump the table when I heard my name. But poor bloody Buck was there, so I all I could do was nod."
Nearly 30 years later Warwick Taylor would tell authors Tony Johnson and Lynn McConnell "that was the worst thing I've encountered. I mean, right opposite me was Arthur Stone. We were good mates, and I made the World Cup team, and he missed out. It was terrible."
There will be some moments of weird panic on line
Brodie Retallick "risking" his recovering dislocated shoulder by using a toboggin would be outrageous, if there wasn't the little video he'd posted on line which showed that a) the slope he was on had a fall of about one in 100 b) he was going slowly enough to have his two wee children on the sled with him and c) there was actually about as much danger to his shoulder as pushing the same kids on a playground swing.
Rugby: Magpies' unbeaten run continues
Halfway through the 1999 Cup campaign photos emerged of All Blacks swimming in Cannes, on a quick break to refresh from the British winter. If they'd won the Cup it would have been hailed as a stroke of genius. They didn't, so there was fury instead. "We still trained, we still had team meetings," said '99 fullback Jeff Wilson. He was telling the truth but hardly any Kiwis wanted to listen. Like Retallick in the snow, the All Blacks in the sea was so far beyond being a side issue, being remotely upset was ridiculous, but feelings are stirred easily at Cup time.
Heightened anxiety levels will mean some odd concerns will get media traction
TJ Perenara wearing a wrist band indicating his support for the protestors at Ihumatao has exercised some, which, considering he was generally praised for publicly standing up when Israel Folau posted his dire warnings for gay people, has more than a hint of contradiction in my mind. A player who thinks for himself? No issue in my book.
Does it set a bad precedent? Will an All Black with a Folau mindset suddenly emerge wearing a "Gays Go To Hell" wristband? Could a white supremist All Black run out with a swastika on his wrist? No, of course not.
Common sense in the management team is one reason, and All Black contracts including protocols for behaviour that won't bring the game into disrepute for homophobic and/or racist behaviour is another. Showing support for a peaceful protest doesn't fall into either category.
There will almost certainly be one refereeing meltdown at the Cup
Let's not thrash Wayne Barnes in 2007 again, and instead realise that nightmares involving the whistle can happen to New Zealand refs too.
In 1999 Paddy O'Brien made mistake after mistake as France beat Fiji , 28-19, in a pool game in Toulouse. He thought a Fijian had knocked on, and wouldn't award what should have been a try. It got worse. A couple of scrums collapsed on the Fijian line. He didn't really know why. But he ran to the goal posts and awarded a penalty try to France anyway.
Five years later, in his book "Whistle While You Work," O'Brien offered no excuses. "What happened that afternoon was a disaster. I couldn't even begin to account for what went wrong."
On a happier note there will probably be one All Black who emerges at the Cup and surprises the world.
Before the professional era, and international televising of Super Rugby, it was possible to lob an absolute bombshell into the Cup. So in 1987 Michael Jones could go from being world famous in west Auckland to being recognised as the best flanker in the world in just four glorious weeks of Cup action.
If they'd had the Super Rugby competition 32 years ago every international coach would have seen what a breathtaking opensider Jones was, and, while the task would probably been impossible, hatched plans to try to shut him down.
In 2015 Nehe Milner-Skudder was the wildcard in the All Black hand. "Well done," said Steve Hansen to a journalist who asked how he felt Milner-Skudder, at 90kg, would compete with the 100kg plus wings he'd be facing, "you've noticed he's not a very big man. But he's very quick." As the '15 Cup went on Milner-Skudder, daring, resourceful, elusive, and skilled, became one of the real stars of a great All Black team.
Sevu Reece is a player with the Milner-Skudder potential to surprise in Japan. Just a fraction smaller than Milner-Skudder, at 87kg, Reece has a lot of the improvisational abilities that made Milner-Skudder such a handful for his markers four years ago. There is still room for flashes of individual brilliance in the game, and the quicksilver moments Reece brought to the Crusaders all season emerged again in the test with the Wallabies at Eden Park. More games like that in Japan and he could be a match winner.
And hopefully there will be a redemption story in Japan too
Nothing, surely, will ever match the astonishing Steven Donald tale from 2011, as he went from whitebaiter to World Cup winner in a week, but if there's one player who it would be wonderful to see on top of his game it's Rieko Ioane.
The fire that made Ioane the best wing in international rugby has flickered this year, possibly not helped by the relegation of his older brother Akira from Cup consideration. But at his best Rieko can be a force of nature on the field, and, if both men were in top form, having Ioane and Reece flying on the wings could be the key to a third successive Cup victory.