If the All Blacks lose the test against the Pumas at Suncorp Stadium tonight, it doesn't really matter.
Some huge punts have been taken by Ian Foster in deciding to face the Pumas with what, in the days of three-month tours, would have definitely been a midweek All Black team.
A forward pack without Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Codie Taylor, and Akira Ioane feels weird. A backline without David Havili and Richie Mo'unga looks strange too.
But if by some chance the Pumas react to the hiding they got last week with huge fury, and the test is lost, so what?
After crushing the Wallabies and the Pumas, the two tests against South Africa, as they always promised to be, are the yardstick against which these All Blacks will be measured in the Rugby Championship. Making damn sure the first-choice players are available to play the Springboks is, being brutally realistic, worth risking a second loss being chalked up in the history of Argentina-New Zealand tests.
Having said that, I'll be fascinated to see how the back-up All Blacks react to being the frontline guys. One of the most remarkable tests was the 18-9 victory by the Baby Blacks over France in Christchurch in 1986. Thirty All Blacks who had toured South Africa in a rebel team called The Cavaliers had been banned for two tests.
There were 11 players making their debuts that June afternoon. And yes, the new boys were spooked. Joe Stanley, a 29-year-old playing his first test, would later say, "In the tunnel, waiting to run out, it was a bit scary. These guys are the French, so unpredictable, the world's best, and here we are, a bunch of little ratbags shoved together, trying to do these guys over. On the other hand, I guess we were also thinking, 'What have we got to lose?'"
Players like lock Tupou Vaa'i and second-five Quinn Tupaea, for example, while having next to no international experience, have huge potential and I hope they play with the freedom and ferocity that Stanley, and the rest of the Baby Blacks did back in '86. Stanley had worried that brilliant French midfielders Philippe Sella and Denis Charvet, might "make a dork" out of him and All Black second-five Arthur Stone. Instead Stanley and Stone, in a phrase Kiwi shot put great Valerie Adams uses to describe her best throws, "smashed the crap out" of the classy French duo, tackling them out of the game.
The court of public opinion, which has given Foster a rough ride from the time he was appointed head coach, hasn't had much to get angry about in the last two weeks.
If the All Blacks win at Suncorp (and the TAB, usually a cold-eyed calculating touchstone for predictions, has them as red-hot favourites at $1.02 for the victory) I'd call it a double success for the coach from Waikato. Another win on the board, and powder kept dry for next weekend against the Boks.
A lot of phrases, none of them complimentary, came to mind when we discovered that World Rugby was considering, even for a second, the idea of making the World Cup an event that took place every two years, rather than every four.
"Kneejerk reaction" is one, given the reports that Fifa, football's world governing body, had been thinking about the same reduced timeframe. Fifa should never be used as a shining model of brilliantly running a sport without a hint of greed or corruption.
It's easy to see why greed heads at Fifa would welcome the chance to dip into the money bin that the World Cup is every two years, rather than every four. But why would World Rugby see the same need?
"Dumb as a rock" is another. To be fair to the brains trust at the headquarters in Dublin, they may not have experienced what Kiwis have discovered, that there's a fine line between a lot of top-level rugby, and too much.
Test matches were once a huge event here. But even before Covid, there were signs that too many internationals were killing the buzz. Make the World Cup a biennial tournament and the golden glow the Cup has will soon fade.