External market forces have forced a major rethink in New Zealand Rugby's payment hierarchy and catapulted Brodie Retallick and Julian Savea into the two best-paid players in the country.
This probably shouldn't be a surprise given Retallick is officially the best player in the world and Savea, after morphing into a souped-up version of Jonah Lomu last year, was shortlisted for the same award.
It should be even less of a surprise that New Zealand Rugby had to come up with about $800,000 for each man, given what offshore clubs were willing to pay.
Retallick is believed to have had a rock-solid offer from Panasonic in Japan worth in excess of $1 million for one season and Savea, had he been properly shopped around France, would have been offered close to $1.5 million a year.
But while this should all make perfect sense, it isn't the way things have been done in the past and represents a significant departure from the norm.
New Zealand's payment hierarchy has previously worked on a pay-your-dues system.
The top-paid players have tended to be those who have delivered long service. The longer players stay, the more they earn has been the loose rule of thumb.
Leading into the last World Cup, the highest-paid players in New Zealand, in no particular order, were believed to be: Richie McCaw, Daniel Carter, Mils Muliaina, Ali Williams, Tony Woodcock, Jerome Kaino, Brad Thorn and Keven Mealamu.
Their respective payments reflected their seniority and experience - all had spurned offers to go at various times in their career; all had shown their value and commitment to the All Blacks by playing 40 tests or more.
And that's how it has been for most of the professional age in New Zealand - smash the hard yards, prove your worth over many seasons and the big-money offer will come. In other words, pay your dues.
But that structure has been exposed this year and there had to be a rapid rethink about who should earn what. The idea of paying dues has had to be shelved because it left critical young players vulnerable to offshore predators.
They were vulnerable because European clubs, in particular, more aggressively target New Zealand's younger players.
Typically in the past, they have focused on test players who are perhaps in their late-20s and unsure for how much longer they will command an All Blacks jersey.
That's been a hit-and-miss strategy - and in truth it has been more miss - as not many players who fit that profile have delivered much for their foreign clubs.
The second flaw with that strategy is that foreign clubs have had to dig deep to tempt those older players as most of them, having served their time, were well paid in New Zealand.
A senior All Black would typically be paid between $450,000 and $650,000 a season, which wouldn't necessarily be that far behind a good offer to play in Europe or Japan.
What foreign clubs have worked out, though, is that New Zealand's best young talent isn't always particularly well looked after. Charles Piutau was the perfect example, and effectively served as the wake-up call on how much recruitment patterns are changing.
Piutau, despite his obvious potential, was on a relatively small contract at the start of this year. It's understood he wasn't even on the Super Rugby maximum of $180,000, which would mean if he was selected for every All Blacks squad - picking up $7500 per week of assembly - his total package would be about $300,000.
When negotiations began in January about signing through to 2017, it's thought he was offered only a modest uplift on his low base. As a 23-year-old with just 14 test caps, that was largely consistent with the domestic market.
Piutau still had plenty to prove, still had to force his way into becoming a regular All Black and earn his right to be paid more. If he'd signed until 2017 and delivered the way the All Blacks coaches thought he could, he'd no doubt have hit pay dirt with his next New Zealand contract.
Except Ulster came in with a $1 million-a-year offer that was too much to resist - a near $700,000 pay increase. And no one could fault Ulster's logic - $1 million for a 23-year-old potential star. That seems a more sensible offer than, say, $800,000 for a senior All Black whose best years are behind him.
If the warning signs were there, NZR didn't heed them at first when they began contract talks with Retallick. Despite being the best player in the world, Retallick is thought to have initially been offered a deal that didn't get remotely close to accurately reflecting his standing in the world game or potential value in a global market.
Like Piutau, Retallick is only 23 and, with 36 tests, hasn't ticked the longevity box. It was much the same with Savea - 24 and 33 tests has not been enough in the past to earn a top-dollar contract.
But these two are in their prime. They are vital to the All Blacks this year and will be for plenty more. They have clubs all over the world ready to throw cash at them and can't, frankly, see why they should pay their dues before they earn what they are worth.
NZR had no choice. If they were serious about keeping them, they had to react to market forces.
"Why should rugby be any different to other sports," says NZR general manager of professional rugby Neil Sorensen. "International football clubs tend to chase young talent, so they can get the benefit of that young talent. Lesser competitions in world football tend to get the older guys at the end of their career. I totally understand why a wealthy owner would go after Charles [Piutau] and Colin [Slade]. If we didn't get that, we would be fools.
"We have to be open to new ideas. When we first started talking about sabbaticals a few years ago, people thought we were mad but we have used them judiciously but we can't stop there. We have to keep talking to players and making sure we remain relevant."