There was a time when Steve Hansen saw a press conference as a conflict, a chance to engage in war with a group he neither rated nor respected.
There was a time, too, when that same group he didn't rate or respect felt the same way about him and predicted he'd be a total dud as head coach of the All Blacks.
On his last day in the job, the last day he sat behind a desk and addressed the media, only those who had been around in those dark days could ever believe they actually happened.
Those who didn't live through it would refuse its existence such was the warmth and comfort. Whether it was mutual, only Hansen will know, but it was certainly real on the other side of the desk.
Hansen's battle with the media which peaked in 2009 is the forgotten war of all forgotten wars and as a sign of how far things have come in a decade, there wasn't a journalist at Tokyo Stadium who didn't nod along in appreciation as Hansen was cheered to the point of tears after the game against Wales.
He'd earned that adulation. He's won the hearts of almost everyone by doing one of the hardest jobs in New Zealand – certainly one of the most pressure-filled – with a mix of honesty, empathy, compassion and unfailing humour.
The appreciation has become deep not just for what he has done but for who he is and if ever there was a coach who deserved a little moment of undiluted and spontaneous public admiration, it was Hansen.
He hated that moment on Friday night as much as he loved. Hated it because the whole secret to his ability to win everyone over has been his refusal to ever let the moment be about him.
He's held his own in the spotlight these past eight years not by choice, but through a sense of duty. Intense media scrutiny comes with the job: it's a non-negotiable part of the package and so Hansen has been on the frontline because the team has needed him to be there.
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He's developed but not personally cultivated a profile as a result. It's been an organic growth, partly because of the media demand and changing nature of the game's interaction with the fourth estate, partly because he's been around for an age and longevity is a story in itself and partly because he's expertly played his hand and given headlines that make news.
But he's never said things with the sole intent of fuelling the media beast. He's said them to help his team and while his motivation has never been to become a media darling, the symbiotic relationship which has developed has made for an easy and neat-fitting alliance.
It became more than that, though. It became a relationship that found the mutual respect that had been missing.
No one in the media ever likes to admit they were wrong, but everyone knew they had been when it came to Hansen.
He had been horribly misread before he took over as head coach and yet while he spent eight years proving how foolish it had been to see him as a failure-in-waiting, he never once rubbed it in.
His side recorded a perfect season in 2013 and he never said a word about how he had been doubted. He coached the All Blacks to a Rugby World Cup victory and nothing. No reminders or revenge statements.
There were 18 consecutive victories strung together and not a hint of Hansen feeling any need to ram home how no one in the media had backed him when he first took over.
His magnanimity in that regard was humbling, so too was his reaction to the semifinal loss.
Under a different coach maybe the media reaction would have had more venom, more of an explosive edge about it.
But Hansen has been unfailingly consistent and honest and having said, with a touch of the Rudyard Kipling about him, that accepting the twin imposters of victory and defeat in the same measured way is the truest sign of character, he practised exactly what he preached.
What happened after the victory against Wales was not about the team, though. It was only about him and it was about him because after eight years of success like the All Blacks have had, there was always going to come a time when it had to be about him.
He couldn't sneak off without everyone letting them know how they felt and so the spontaneous eruption of joy at Tokyo Stadium was about a nation saying thanks and a nation saying they knew what he had done, loved how he had done it and were sad to see him go.
It was a moment all about him and only about him and however much he didn't want it to be like that, it had to be like that.