Former All Blacks coach Steve Hansen used to fear that junior rugby didn't do enough to reward work ethic.
He'd often say too much high impact traffic made it onto the elite pathway – that the people picking age-grade teams were too easily seduced by the biggest, fastest and most powerful athletes.
Hansen, who spent 16 years with the All Blacks between 2004 and 2019, wanted the talent identification template to recognise that the less-gifted player who was still running and tackling his heart out 80 minutes into the contest may in fact be the one to back ahead of those who were masters at the art of impressive, sporadic cameos.
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Whenever his argument was rebuffed, he'd play his trump card, pointing out that the greatest All Black in history was 90 per cent work ethic, 10 per cent natural ability.
Richie McCaw was never a star in schoolboy rugby. He was noticed, but only after a lot of other players had been noticed before him.
He didn't have the ability to overtly impact the game at that age and would most likely have battled on the edges of the provincial scene as a young adult had it not been for the fact Hansen, coach of Canterbury at the time, saw McCaw in one of his last First XV games and decided there and then that he had to offer him a contract.
As Hansen would say 17 years later when McCaw was retiring after winning 148 test caps and captaining the All Blacks to two World Cups: "He arrived on the scene as a pimply faced schoolboy who was raw but keen to learn. He leaves with less pimples but still with a desire to learn.
"I'll tell you this: he had a certain skill but he couldn't catch, couldn't pass, and couldn't run."
Throughout McCaw's career, he produced compelling evidence to support the value of work ethic, yet strangely while four of the country's Super Rugby teams could make that connection, the Blues never could.
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For whatever reason, the Blues spent the McCaw era investing in athletes who were all about the incredible and sometimes the impossible, but only ever in five-minute spells.
Work ethic was never high on the selection agenda and the honest battler never showed up in their ranks.
Until now and the Blues find themselves in the unusual but welcome place of being well inside the play-off zone in mid-March, because they are picking players with a work ethic.
Their turnaround in fortune this year is being driven by two distinct elements related to work ethic: the first is that it has suddenly been instilled in a few high-impact players.
Patrick Tuipulotu is fitter and leaner than he's ever been and as a result, he's become significantly more influential. That can be seen in the way he'll carry into contact, scramble to his feet and be ready to do it again just one ruck later.
It's the same when he doesn't have the ball and as much as opposition feel the impact of this increased effort, so too do his team-mates see it.
Hoskins Sotutu was barely sighted last year, but he turned up at pre-season in great shape, won the No 8 jersey and has impressed not just with athleticism, but with his desire to stay in the contest and play on his feet.
Karl Tu'inukuafe is another who is getting more out of himself. When he was everyone's favourite prop in 2018, starting regularly for the All Blacks having begun the season without a Super Rugby contract, the romance of his story hid the fact that he was trundling around the park until scrum time.
Not now. This season he's been pro-active in general play. Hungry, eager and determined to be more than a good scrummager.
Maybe the biggest difference at the Blues this year, though, has come with the selection of the likes of Tony Lambourn and Aaron Carroll.
These two are honest-to-goodness workhorses. They are the sorts of players that the Blues would never have picked a few years ago and yet both are proving high value.
They bring energy and commitment. They stick their head in places that matter and they throw themselves into battle with little consideration for themselves, only thinking about their duty to the team.
What's really happened with the Blues is that they don't wilt or implode in the big moments of big games, because now they have players who are working for real, producing 10 lower-profile but significant acts instead of players strolling around, looking to produce one high-impact act.
Work ethic is finally being recognised and the Blues are being rewarded for it.