Ben Smith, a 33-year-old All Black about to play his 84th and final test, a self-confessed "battler from Green Island" in Dunedin, an extraordinary player over many years who made few age-group rugby teams as a kid, is sitting in the Conrad Hilton in Tokyo and is being asked to reflect on his career.
This cannot be easy. Smith is a funny and engaging character who never normally gives much away in the glare of the media spotlight and this is a difficult time for all 31 All Blacks at the World Cup as they attempt to process a disappointment that will stay with them always.
But, away from the TV cameras and banks of microphones and perhaps sensing that now might be a good time to talk about a career that began back in 2009 and has been marked by resilience, a work ethic that has wrung every bit of talent from his slender frame and a commitment to do the right thing that has won him a legion of supporters from Green Island in New Zealand's South Island to Gateshead in the North of England, Smith lifts the lid on how he'd like to be remembered.
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All of the All Blacks here have handled their World Cup blow with grace and honesty, perhaps instinctively knowing that it's better for their team and nation as a whole, and Smith is no different.
"Definitely as a rugby player but probably as a person who had good morals, was a good team man, someone that was always doing the right thing and hopefully someone who could be trusted," Smith says.
"I'd hope that people see me as humble. I remember playing my first test and it was a bit of a long journey before I played my second. I played 80-odd tests... to be part of a club and the legacy it has… to wear the jersey and be part of that is something I'll always be proud of."
Fittingly, Smith's wife and two young children, Walter and Annabelle, are here in Tokyo and will attend tonight's match against Wales, Smith's final hurrah at the end of what has been a challenging season for him. He wasn't named in the squads to play Ireland or England over the past fortnight because of the form of Sevu Reece on the right wing and Beauden Barrett at fullback, but now gets an opportunity to finish on the right note. It's the least he deserves. It will be his first start since the test against Tonga in Hamilton in early September.
It's important for him to set an example for his daughters, in particular, and to repay the faith and support shown in him by his family. Smith played his first test in 2009 – for him a challenging match against Italy in Rome – and he didn't play his next one until 2011. From then on he was an ever-present at the back or on the right wing for the All Blacks; his safety under the high ball and ability to beat tackles and spark counter-attacks making him a must-have for coach Steve Hansen until this year.
He remembers as a 22-year-old coming into an All Black environment including such players as Dan Carter, Richie McCaw, Keven Mealamu and Conrad Smith, men he said he had idolised from afar.
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And now he leaves as an inspirational figure himself, a non-assuming bloke who will forever be a Highlanders legend because of his loyalty and commitment and boy-next-door appearance; a guy who doesn't need a second invitation to kick off the jandals and join a game of summer touch footy near his holiday house in Lake Wanaka.
A couple of years ago a young Wanaka boy wrote a letter to Smith asking for a few pointers, received a positive reply, and a few days later several hundred kids turned looking for an audience with the man fondly known as Bender.
"I'm just a battler from Green Island," he says. "Hopefully other kids look at that. I didn't make many age-group teams. There was an opportunity there and that's the awesome thing about New Zealand. Hopefully, that's something I can show my kids; if you stick at something, anything is possible. You roll with it and work hard and you never know what happens."
Resilience is important to him because it's shaped his career. It helped him persevere after that night in Rome a decade ago and got him through several bad injuries, including concussions in 2017 and the concussion-like symptoms of an inner-ear issue that wrecked his British and Irish Lions series that year. This year he battled back from a bad hamstring tear. Asked about resilience, Smith replies: "Yeah, especially this year."
"I've learned that you've got to make sure you have the right people to fall back on. For me, I'm lucky I have. It's a bit of a rollercoaster that you go through. There are people that will probably message you in the good times and there are people that will message you when things aren't going so well. You probably lean on those people who are there through the whole journey. I'm lucky enough to have good family, good friends through those tough times to lean back on.
"As far as rugby goes, I've learned over my whole career that you've got to always evolve and try to keep finding ways to get better. If you don't quite do that you miss opportunities. It's an awesome ride this rugby ride that I've been on. I'll take a lot of great memories from it.
"I'm lucky enough to have my family over here at the moment; my two young kids will come along on Friday night. It's important for me … that they will see me in a black jersey [for the last time]. It's important to get that right.
He adds: "There are a lot of guys in this group who will hopefully go to another World Cup and be better for it.
"You can get emotional at certain times. I'll probably reflect a bit more when the tournament is over. It will probably sink in a bit more then. I just want to make sure I play really good footy on Friday night and try to do the right thing by this team so that we can come into that changing room afterwards and make the best out of what is a bad situation."
Here's to Ben Smith, the battler who never gave up, a good southern man; an inspiration for all.