There are many All Blacks who have found their opposition to be significantly less intimidating than their teammates.
Plenty, particularly in the distant past, discovered that the hardest part of being an All Black was surviving a hierarchical culture that was effectively institutionalised bullying on a scale that the author of 1857 novel Tom Brown's School Days, Thomas Hughes, may have found fanciful.
Even tough men such as Richard Loe came into the team as nobodies, with no rights and no respect. Loe ended up being feared all over the world but on his first All Blacks assignment, he shared a room with senior prop John Ashworth, whose only utterance in three days was, "milk, no sugar".
Andy Dalton was the squad skipper when the All Blacks won the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987, but a decade before, he was called to the back of the team bus where he stood quaking in front of the senior players as they told him that he would buy them beer and stay quiet until they decided he no longer had to.
That culture of new players being ritually humiliated until they had served enough time to earn respect softened throughout the professional era, but the concept of paying dues wasn't eradicated.
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Even at the previous World Cup that culture existed, not so much by design but because of the reputation and strength of the personalities and their respective longevity within the team.
Richie McCaw didn't mean to intimidate his younger teammates, but he did none the same, as did Dan Carter, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Keven Mealamu and Tony Woodcock. New players tended to be terrified about saying anything when they first arrived.
Julian Savea said when he made the All Blacks in 2012, he once hid when he saw McCaw coming his way as he was so in awe of the captain and fearful about how a verbal exchange might turn out.
McCaw was a brilliant captain who led a brilliant team, but it was a team run by a cabal of senior players, all of whom were products of the tough love environments they had endured and whether they realised it or not, they projected that same sense of expectation that new boys were to be seen and not heard.
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It certainly didn't prevent the All Blacks from being successful, but when Kieran Read took over the captaincy in 2016, he had a vision of creating an egalitarian team where those with one cap were treated the same as those with 100.
He wasn't convinced that starving new players of confidence and having them fearful of speaking their minds would be conducive to performance.
For some, the environment would be motivating, but he suspected others would find it intimidating to the point of crushing and it seemed counterproductive to pick talented youngsters and not support them to deliver what they had been put in the team to do.
"I guess I came in at the end of that era where as a young player you didn't talk, sat quietly and earned your respect on the field which I don't think is a bad thing," Read says.
"And certainly that was kind of the way – until you did what you needed to do on the field. Then you got the respect of the senior guys and perhaps got a wee conversation with them. That was just the way it was.
"For some guys, it works. I was capable of doing it. I was a quiet guy back then so I wouldn't have said anything anyway.
"So in some ways yes it helps you, but also having the confidence to go out there and play comes from having trust in these guys and talking to them.
"That, for me, has become crucial. When new guys come in, if you can have a conversation with them, then on the field where they may need to say something to you, they will be more inclined to tell you something you need to know rather than not."
Read is similar to McCaw in that he has that single-minded desire to win and conviction that the best way to lead is through the quality of his own performance.
They are, though, different people and personalities. Where McCaw was shy and perhaps unwittingly aloof in his final years because of his incredible standing in the game and legendary focus and determination, Read is by nature more relaxed, more inclusive and more conscious of how he interacts with others, particularly new All Blacks.
Both men devoted their rugby careers to the Crusaders and have built their adult lives in Christchurch, but they had vastly different upbringings.
Read's world view has been shaped by growing up in multi-cultural South Auckland, which gave him an appreciation that diversity is a strength and has fuelled his desire to connect with all members of his team.
The fact that he's a married father of three has perhaps also led him to try to get to grips with his Generation Y and Z teammates in a way McCaw never did.
To help new players settle, Read feels he needs to understand them – have some sense of what makes them tick and find a connection point.
"The guys coming through now have grown up with iPads and iPhones and all that, social media, which is different to when I grew up," Read says.
"But the key thing for me is that because of my upbringing in Counties it didn't matter where you were from or what your background was. I played with lots of different guys and it was just teammates. So you adjusted to that and I could hang with whomever in the team.
"Consciously, in recent times I have come to realise this generation are potentially more emotionally charged and fluctuate more than perhaps me and guys older than me because you never really had those opportunities to be that way when you were growing up."
Read has recognised that Generation Y and Z (those born between 1977 and 1994, and after 1995, respectively) operate on a different emotional plain with different expectations and hence he's bent the culture of the team to accommodate rather than isolate.
His captaincy has been defined by his ability to break down the barriers that previously prevented the All Blacks from being genuinely inclusive.
He's shown hands-on dedication to finding practical ways to help new players quickly find their feet and give them the confidence to speak up, contribute and be at their best.
He's made it a matter of pride that new players know they are valued the instant they walk in the door.
"I know exactly what they are feeling because I had all the same feelings when I came into a side with Dan Carter, Reuben Thorne and Richie McCaw," he says.
"It is about having a conversation with them to find out about them. I can't expect them to initiate that. Any chance you get, be it over lunch or dinner to sit next to them and maybe find out one thing about them, you take it.
"And then you can tell them to back themselves, 'you are here for a reason, go play' and then they truly believe it."
As much as the challenge for Read has been persuading new players they have a licence to speak and a right to be heard, it has also been about convincing his senior leadership group to embrace the new way of doing things.
Some of his lieutenants came through the old school and believe a generation that doesn't take well to criticism or having to wait would arguably benefit from having to discover for themselves how to uphold and accept the values of discipline, hard work and patience which have been the bedrock of the All Blacks' success.
"Most of the kids are pretty good but you get some who have come out of First XV which is televised and they are big rock stars," long-serving hooker Dane Coles says.
"When they come into the professional environment they want it straight away. I had to wait three years. I played three years off the bench behind [Andrew] Hore because that is what I had to do.
"Some of these young guys are impatient and have to understand their time will come. Just put the work in and your time will come, but it is a generational thing.
"The hard conversations are sometimes what they need. A few words from an older player can help them see what is going on. But you have to encourage them too and tell them when they are playing well because things have changed and there is a lot more getting around the young fellas, having a yarn with them when they arrive.
"We are more inclusive now and it doesn't matter if you have played one test or 100, we are treated all the same. But I still think there is a little bit of room for the old school mentality."
Sam Cane, who has captained the All Blacks twice since coming into the team in 2012, is another leader who has had to adjust to the fact new players these days don't understand or buy into the idea of earning the right to speak.
"It is the evolution of high-performance environments," he says. "Eight years ago when I came in you wouldn't speak much for the first couple of years, but if you went back 10 years again it would be worse.
"I think the leaders set the tone and the leaders of that time had transitioned through that era so they had that little bit of old school mentality about them of having to earn your stripes which I still think there is a little bit of a place for.
"It [All Blacks] is an environment now where you are encouraged to come in and be yourself and if you have something to say then it is valued straight off the bat.
"I remember my first training and I was terrified about dropping the ball because I was unknown and unproven and I was probably doubting myself because I didn't have the self-confidence to know whether I should be there.
"So now, I definitely make a conscious effort to not take things too seriously. Away from the rugby I try to be myself and in my downtime let my guard down to let them know [younger players] they can take the piss out of me and I can do the same."
Other All Blacks leaders such as Sonny Bill Williams and Ardie Savea have found it relatively easy to embrace Generation Z.
Williams was in the unique position of becoming an All Black after only a few appearances for Canterbury in the 2010 ITM Cup and yet being a massive superstar because of his profile built in the NRL.
The juxtaposition of having such a major media following without having earned it through deeds in the black jersey didn't sit well with some of the leaders at that time and Williams cut a lonely figure in those early years.
"When you come with a big profile, it was really tough," Williams says.
"At times I probably didn't help myself because I was shy and quiet instead of making myself a bit more vulnerable.
"That was the era of the old school guy - to shut up and get on with it, but that is not the case now.
"Yes, we want young guys to fulfil their potential and speak up and be themselves but it is a two-way street as us older boys need to be vulnerable enough to say 'hey how are you, how are you going, what's happening?'.
"Over the years I guess that barrier is being broken down and I feel like that is one of my strengths - having the people smarts and social understanding to get down and talk on that level and connect with them."
Savea, too, had a unique situation in that he was selected as an apprentice to tour with the squad in 2013. He had played for Wellington, but he was 19, hadn't experienced Super Rugby and was training with players he'd idolised since primary school.
"I was shit-scared to be honest," he says. "Rubbing shoulders with guys you idolised as a kid, to be around them when you are a fan is hard. I was this shit-scared, star-struck kid and that is part of my brief now to stand up and speak because I know what it is like to feel that way."
The proof that Read's vision is not abstract can be seen in the make-up of the team picked to play Ireland.
The team is loaded with Generation Z players who have been around for the veritable five minutes and yet have been setting the rugby world alight.
The impact new players have been able to make in the past 18 months has changed the complexion of the team.
Richie Mo'unga and Jack Goodhue, both 23 when they won their first caps last year, were so composed and effective they ousted world-class All Blacks to become regular starters.
George Bridge scored two tries on debut late last year and after two more appearances off the bench leapfrogged Ben Smith.
And then there is Sevu Reece, the 22-year-old try-scoring sensation who began the year without a Super Rugby contract, but is keeping Rieko Ioane out of the team.
Ioane, of course, himself testament to the empowerment of new players as he was picked in the first test of the Lions series in 2017 as a promising 20-year-old and finished the season nominated for World Player of the Year.
As he says: "The old heads want to connect and for that transition to be seamless. It has definitely moved away from that old school culture."
These young players exude confidence. They play beyond their level of experience, make strong decisions and while they hold the leadership group in the highest respect, it's apparent no one is intimidated into silence or fearful of challenging that with which they don't agree.
The backline combined doesn't have many more caps than McCaw himself had and yet Read's team is fearless and uninhibited, showing against South Africa in their opening pool game an outrageous ability to back themselves and trust their phenomenal array of skills.
"We want people to trust their instincts and their skillsets on the park and go and do it," assistant coach Ian Foster says.
"You can't expect that on the park and have a system off the park where the young fellas feel like they can't say anything.
"There is certainly a desire from young players, just as there is in society, to have their voice and be heard. So we have had to move with the times and make those judgements."
Whatever happens against Ireland, Read at least has the satisfaction that he built the egalitarian team he hoped he would. He has the team he wanted – one where age, experience and background matter not, as everyone can be the best version of themselves.
The team that played and won the 2015 World Cup final had in excess of 1200 caps, included 13 previous World Cup winners, two men who were playing their fourth tournament and two who were at their third.
The big plays were delivered by the old guard; Carter, McCaw, Nonu and Jerome Kaino all produced something magic when it mattered.
Read's team are a stunning contrast. There will be 13 playing their first World Cup knockout game and five who only came into the team last year.
The average age of the backline is 25, compared with 2015 when it was 29, and the energy and creativity of the 2019 All Blacks is coming from the new boys. This is a Generation Z team in make-up and mindset and giving youth a voice has made the All Blacks a better team than had they continued to stifle and restrict the influence of those who hadn't paid their dues.
"I think we were heading in that direction before I took over the captaincy," Read says. "But as a whole group we have got better at it. I think, naturally as a leader that's where I wanted it to be because that is how I lead, how I approach people and who I am.
"I think it shows. When you see the new guys, the younger guys come in and perform, it means the culture of the team is spot on. It means they can be themselves and they can be relaxed to know what they have to do but yet go out and show it.
"There haven't been too many guys who come into this environment and haven't lasted. Mostly everyone has come in and found a way and I think that is a great sign for what we have here."