For Conrad Smith, the spilling of bad blood in the process to plot the commercial future of New Zealand Rugby has been strangely reassuring.
The former All Black, who played 94 tests and is now back in New Zealand working for the International Rugby Players, says he was harbouring deep concerns two months ago that a major slice of the national game and country's heritage was going to be sold off without an appropriate level of scrutiny or consultation.
The recent escalation in hostilities between NZR and the New Zealand Rugby Players' Association – the result of the latter having publicly aired an alternative financial pathway to the Silver Lake proposal preferred by the former – is not seen by Smith as a sign this conflict is now becoming unresolvable, but as an opportunity to begin a more transparent, calm and reasoned national discussion.
"In a funny way, as tough as it has been for me to see this bad blood being spilt, I am happier now than I was two months ago when this deal was going through and no one was talking about the risk or potential other options," says Smith.
"While the process has been far from ideal, people are talking about this now and there can be genuine debate within New Zealand.
"NZR will tell us they have had this debate, but I think this is a decision bigger than just one board. When you are talking about the All Blacks who have 120 plus years of history and a decision that is going to affect the next 120 years, surely you want as many people who care about it to consider it and debate it?
"We have to trust that the process will bring the right outcome."
What was also concerning Smith a couple of months ago was the development of a twisted narrative which was building around the professional players.
There were accusations made that their opposition to the Silver Lake deal was driven by a desire to negotiate more money for themselves at the expense of the grassroots game.
Such claims struck deep into the heart of Smith and other legendary All Blacks such as Richie McCaw, who feels that in his time, he and his teammates never forgot where they came from and where their journey started.
"It is something we cherished as an All Black team," says Smith. "The whole time I was there we would always talk about our connection with the community. As an All Black team we were a flagship for a nation and we prided ourselves on being better than any other country.
"You don't just say that as a gimmicky thing to try to motivate yourself for one game. We believed in that and that is why all the motivation and the emotion of wearing the All Blacks jersey – what it means to players – we talked about that every All Black camp, every week you live as an All Black you are always aware of that.
"So when it comes to matters like this, it is front of mind that the guys want to make sure that the money coming in is looking after the parts of the game that we all came from and keeping it a community game – a game for all New Zealanders. Those things are massive to all the players.
"It has never been about players wanting money or their share compared with the community game. We need money so it can be given back to the community game and make NZR more secure."
In a test career between 2004 and 2015 that saw Smith win two World Cups, he says that one of the best parts of being an All Black at that time was the emergence of 'Club Night'.
"That was a Wayne Smith project," says Smith of the initiative that saw the entire All Black squad, once a week, head out for dinner wearing their club jerseys.
"It was a way of connecting back to the community game. If you were a new All Black you had to stand up and talk about your club and say how many games you had played and what not.
"That would vary, there were some guys who hadn't played a lot of club rugby, because they were young and had gone straight into professional rugby.
"But then you had a guy like Luke Romano who had played 100 games. Myself, I had played more than 50. We would usually hold it at a clubroom wherever we were in New Zealand. It was our way of connecting with the grassroots and our way of recognising where we had all come from and acknowledging what part of the game was most important."
Smith, a qualified lawyer, has been close to the discussions about the various capital raising options being explored to put New Zealand rugby on a more secure financial footing.
He returned to New Zealand last year when Covid hit and forced France, where he was working as an assistant coach with the Pau club, to shut down.
His intention was to return to France when the Covid dust settled, but when it became clear life was going to remain challenged for some time, he committed to staying in New Zealand, taking up a role with IRPA.
He has regular contact with both the NZRPA and NZR and says he's in neither camp. That said, he admits to having a strong desire to see the Forsyth Barr five per cent public offering proposal given the due respect and consideration he feels it deserves.
His natural inclination is to see it as a better cultural fit, a proposition that is more aligned with the All Blacks' values.
"You could easily say 90 per cent of New Zealanders feel that way," he says. "If not more. As a story, of course that sits better."
But he's not adamant that it is the right offer – he's adamant that it needs to be treated like it could potentially be.
"Surely if any country can ask themselves to invest in their rugby team, it would be New Zealanders investing in the All Blacks?
"The players are trying to promote another option and we would like it to be considered. Let's have the debate and if we don't have the capabilities and we can't do it ourselves, then maybe Silver Lake is the better option.
"But they feel like at the moment that this other option isn't being looked at hard enough and is undervalued."