The player that former All Blacks coach Wayne Smith, a notable and perceptive judge of rugby talent, described as having "cement in his shoulders", is about to hang up his boots for the final time just as his beloved Blues stand on the brink of achieving something he never got to experience.
Former All Black Jerome Kaino, a modern great as a blindside flanker – and one I would argue the All Blacks have yet to replace four years after his retirement from the international stage – has one or perhaps two games left in him, depending on whether his Toulouse team win their French domestic semifinal next weekend.
Whatever happens, Kaino will retire as a champion in more ways than one. As has become almost routine for the now 38-year-old, he played an integral part of his side's Heineken Cup victory over La Rochelle at Twickenham recently, so his club already have "best in Europe" bragging rights – and now they're closing in on the French championship after finishing the regular season on top of the table.
Two years ago, Kaino captained Toulouse to the French Top 14 title - the first elite domestic honour of his long career after a 15-year barren run with the Blues.
For Kaino, nothing will match his achievements in winning two World Cups, which isn't to say he won't retire with a hint of regret about what he might have achieved in Super Rugby.
In New Zealand in 2011 he was generally regarded as the best player in the tournament – skipper Richie McCaw thought so – and while that trinket was handed to France captain Thierry Dusautoir, Kaino had the satisfaction of a winner's medal and the knowledge that he was the best defensive player there. His try-saving tackle on Digby Ioane in the All Blacks' semifinal victory over Australia will live long in the memory.
Four years later he was just as dominant in the knockout matches as the All Blacks swept all before them in the United Kingdom.
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Hindsight helps significantly but such was the intent in the collisions that he and loose forward colleague Kieran Read provided seconds after the kick-off for the final against Australia at Twickenham that the result was almost a forgone conclusion. Try as they might, and Liam Squire was perhaps the best prospect, the All Blacks haven't been able to find a blindside flanker with that intimidation factor since.
Indeed, not only will Kaino, who played 81 tests, be remembered as one of the best No 6s to wear the black jersey, he, Read and McCaw will go down in history as New Zealand's best ever loose forward trio (and perhaps the best the world has ever seen); an almost perfect amalgamation of power, pace and intelligence.
But while Read and McCaw retired after winning Super Rugby championships, Kaino never did. In fact, his New Zealand domestic career was a litany of disappointment. His 100th match for the Blues was a one-point defeat to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein (after a controversial last-minute penalty for the home side) and, in the following match the Blues contrived to lose to a poor Lions side at North Harbour.
Kaino and his teammates ran on to the pitch through a guard of honour formed by Blues legends, including Robin Brooke and others, and what followed as one of the most dispiriting 80 minutes played by the franchise.
Which makes the Blues' impending date with destiny all the more important. Beat the Western Force with a bonus point on Saturday and they'll host a Super Rugby final and give themselves an opportunity to do something they haven't done for too long given their history and talent.
They need to primarily play for themselves and their families but they also need to do it for all of those who gave so much to the Blues for so little reward since their last title in 2003. Of those, Kaino, the man from South Auckland who as a teenager played in the backs before becoming one of the most feared defenders in world rugby, would be the most deserving.