Redemption through rugby is an idea that will always curl some lips.
I'd be the first to agree that believing a game in itself can act as rehabilitation is nonsense. But I do think the structures around professional rugby can help improve personal discipline and behaviour.
Nine months ago, Highlanders lock Manaaki Selby-Rickit was in the Invercargill District Court, pleading guilty to injuring with reckless disregard for the safety of others, after an assault that left his victim, to whom Selby-Rickit was ordered to pay $8000 in damages, with a badly fractured jaw.
Now Selby-Rickit is in the company of All Blacks in the South squad for the proposed North-South game. Should he be there? Should he have even been playing for the Highlanders this year?
I can understand the feelings of those who would say no. But as violent as Selby-Rickit's behaviour was in the early hours of an Invercargill morning last September, I can't see the benefit to society of throwing a 23-year-old with no previous convictions on the scrapheap.
If he was an apprentice builder, a young lawyer, or at medical school, I'd feel the same.
Rugby players, by the very nature of the game, are young, and the young can make some terrible choices, and should be made aware of the consequences.
Alcohol played a part in the bad behaviour of Selby-Rickit, and alcohol was once a major player in rugby here, right to the highest level, where the first commercial name on the All Black jersey was a brand of beer.
The fact is that professional rugby now is, for the most part, regulated and disciplined. Training is so frequent that alcohol abuse, while not unheard of, is genuinely rare.
Sevu Reece made the All Blacks last year from the Crusaders, after being discharged without conviction after admitting assaulting his partner in 2018 in Hamilton. At the time of Reece's All Black selection Steve Hansen was actually not mouthing platitudes when he told Jim Kayes on Radio Sport, "He (Reece) has come into an environment in the Crusaders where they've put a lot of things around him that have helped educate him, they've helped him understand that to be a good person you have to do certain things, and by doing that he's shown a lot of remorse for what he's done".
Reece and Selby-Rickit have been fortunate enough to have been given a lifeline. Hopefully they'll continue to keep a firm grip on it.
The revival of the North Island versus South Island game, whenever and wherever it may be held this year, is a reminder of how the old inter-island matches petered out to the point that by the 1980s they were being played in Oamaru and Blenheim.
The annual games had gone the way of walk shorts and It's In The Bag by 1986. But there have been a couple of spluttering comebacks, in 1995, and then, to help fund a struggling Otago Rugby Union, a truly bizarre match in 2012 that was billed as an inter-island game, but was without most frontline All Blacks, and drew just 7427 fans to Forsyth Barr stadium.
Travel down the time tunnel though, and inter-island games were once very much the real deal, often acting as All Black trials.
Former 1960s All Black and television commentator Grahame Thorne emailed me this week: "For those who remember the bow and arrow days we used to assemble for North v South on the Wednesday afternoon, train Thursday and Friday and play on Saturday.
"In 1968 in Christchurch we (the North) had the whole All Black pack, including Brian Lochore, Colin Meads, and Ken Gray. We won easily (34-17) but the most classic moment was (coach) Ivan Vodanovich's team talk.
"He'd written it all out and it looked like the Old Testament! He read it out in a slow monotone, and went on and on. The manager told him twice the bus was ready, and that the game was a 2.45pm start. Ivan eventually finished after 2pm. We got to Lancaster Park at 2.20, and there was just time to change before the game was on."
There was one benefit for Thorne, who was renowned for getting nervous and throwing up before a big match. "Not that day. There wasn't time!"
Talking this week with Simon Barnett and me on Newstalk ZB, Dan Carter thought hard before he answered the question: Who was the toughest player he ever faced?
"When I played against the South African loose forward Schalk Burger I'd keep looking at my All Black jersey wondering if there was a big target in the middle of the jersey. He'd be having a huge battle with our big forward pack, but he'd just keep going. He didn't stop. He was physical and his leg drive was incredible. A real competitor. And then an absolute top bloke off the field. But when he was out there competing he was tough."
In passing, if the "top bloke" comment sounds a little too much like just being good public relations, a former radio colleague, Ross Karl, once told me how he'd been an exchange student in South Africa, and had stayed with Burger's family.
They were, he said, the most extraordinarily good hearted, decent people, and while Schalk may have looked fearsome in game mode, the man himself, as Carter obviously found, was intelligent and great company.