James Lowe did his sums. Three established wings, two fullbacks, plenty more talent emerging on his heels equalled a test debut for the All Blacks and likely little more.
Problem was he wanted more. He wanted a fully-fledged test career. He wanted to strut his skills on the grandest of rugby stages.
Eight months from now Nelson's born and raised Lowe, a gifted attacking talent, is scheduled to arrive on that very stage in an emerald green jersey.
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Following their struggles to evolve from another World Cup disappointment, Ireland sure could use someone with his point of difference.
Come November Lowe will be one of the last players to satisfy rugby's much-maligned three-year residency rule, before the policy is amended to five years from 2021. Fellow former Chief Bundee Aki established his presence in the Irish midfield via the same route.
Lowe flirted with the All Blacks for several years. Shoulder surgery ultimately curtailed his best chance to don the black jersey in Samoa in 2015 and he spent the next two seasons in a similar position; on the wing for the Chiefs, on the fringe of the All Blacks during Steve Hansen's tenure.
"It was definitely a childhood dream and something that I thought I would have been," Lowe reflects from Dublin where he now owns a house.
"I was at the Chiefs for five seasons and you get to a stage where you do the maths in your head, you see who is coming through, who gets selected, you have your chats.
"I definitely would have played a couple of tests through injury or there would have been the game in Tokyo or something similar but would I be happy playing two tests not against the Australians, South Africans? That's no disrespect to the other teams, but that was the reality.
"I wanted to be an international player playing in the big games. You figure it all out and another opportunity came up. All of sudden I started thinking about things in a different light."
Sound reasoning, especially when Leinster, one of the world's best rugby clubs, provided the pathway towards the test arena and immediate financial rewards.
Lowe certainly has no regrets.
"I've gone into a set up where winning is inevitable. I feel like I've gone into a place where they've got everything right."
Before making the move north and jumping into the unknown, Lowe did his homework. He consulted Isa Nacewa, Jamison Gibson-Park and Hayden Triggs, all of whom played for Leinster.
Over the course of his career former Manawatu lock Triggs represented nine clubs. He told Lowe: "This will be the best decision you'll ever make".
The kicker came at a charity event in Auckland where Sir Graham Henry gave Leinster his seal of approval.
Stephen Donald offered the icing by endorsing Dublin's renowned nightlife.
"I didn't even know where the club was at the start," Lowe says. "The fact Leinster came knocking and asked if I would go over was a blessing in disguise. Leaving New Zealand was a difficult thing to do – I was literally knocking on the door of the All Blacks for two or three years but hadn't been given that full opportunity.
"You have to make peace with that when you make the decision to sign overseas. Financially it was obviously a smart decision.
"You've only got a small window to make as much money as you can so I thought it was too good an opportunity to turn down."
Lowe's ties to New Zealand remain strong. He recently returned from two weeks of Nelson sun, beaches, biking and beers. He doesn't miss travelling to South Africa for Super Rugby games but will rise early doors most weekends to scream support at the television while watching the Chiefs. And his long locks he started growing at the start of his final Super Rugby season flow on.
"I don't know why… someone said I couldn't do it. I've just stuck with it and now I can't get rid of them. It's a long process to get it to where it is. You go through a very long, awkward phase of hair."
Only Aaron Cruden, while playing for Montpellier, and a Munster opponent have dared to yank Lowe's now trademark mane during games.
Lowe has, however, assimilated Irish culture. He regularly sports the cheese-cutter hat – the kind enjoying a rebirth thanks to the Peaky Blinders series. Waikato Draught has been replaced by a keen taste for Ireland's iconic stout, too.
"I know what a shite Guinness tastes like. I love the culture here – they're very similar to Kiwis, fun loving and easy going."
Lowe is symptomatic of a growing trend in the New Zealand game – those players on the fringe of the All Blacks unwilling to bide their time and instead leaving in their prime.
In Lowe's case, his move could not have worked out better.
Outside his bolstered bank balance and improved test prospects he has already claimed the Pro14 title twice and Europe's pinnacle, the Champions Cup, once.
"It's weird, crazy, to think I've done that."
This season Leinster are unbeaten through 19 games. Despite regularly resting their test stars they last lost a Pro14 match 10 months ago, and again reside among the leading European contenders.
"We can't lose at the moment so it's going alright."
When Lowe first arrived, though, the super structured Irish rugby approach was a shock to the system for the free-spirited, light-hearted Kiwi.
"It felt like an army camp with how everything was so rigid. Coming from the Chiefs, which is also a very serious and competitive environment, everyone was so intense about their rugby which freaked me out a little bit.
"Their schoolboy rugby would definitely challenge New Zealand. Watching 16, 17, 18-year-olds playing the structure that I wouldn't have learnt until I played for Tasman… it's crazy the depth of detail they've created here."
Lowe's chilled off-field persona reflects his on-field approach. He enjoys playing the larrikin, scoring tries, flicking flamboyant offloads at every opportunity but he's had to adapt his game in Ireland.
"To be in an environment where everyone was every straight up and down…I would ask our head coach how well he slept the night before and he was wondering what was going through my head.
"I think they don't mind me now… they haven't kicked me out yet.
"My girlfriend doesn't know much about rugby but she says don't offload unless it's one of the foreigners.
"It's not bad to be structured by any means. When it comes down to the 78th minute and you're down by two points and your forwards will run into a brick wall until they get over the line, that's great, but there has to be a bit of both."
Former England coach Stuart Lancaster and Felipe Contepomi, the legendary Argentine playmaker now overseeing the backs at Leinster, are attempting to encourage a more attacking mindset.
"That's where our game is going to eventually get to – more of that Super Rugby style, a more free-flowing game and not dying with the ball.
"I like to offload and throw balls out the back – not quite the Damian McKenzie skill set but I'll try."
First and foremost, Lowe's focus had to switch to honing his craft under the high ball and on defence. With games often dictated by wild weather and boggy surfaces, mistakes in these basic fundamentals decide outcomes.
Northern Hemisphere teams also tend to station two players in the backfield at all times, whereas New Zealand prefers pendulum wings with one always on the move, which required further adjusting.
"We're not conceding as many points as when I first got here so that's a good sign."
All of which adds up to a much more polished version of Lowe. His touches from first-receiver, footwork and pace in the outside channels, booming left boot now have a more refined edge.
The next phase will be testing those skills on the international stage, with his family set to make the trip north for the November tests when Ireland hosts Australia, world champions South Africa and Japan in Dublin.
Conveniently, Lowe often sees Ireland coach Andy Farrell at their local grocer.
"I bump into him down there a fair bit. We've had brief conversations about the opportunity but if I'm playing well enough to get selected that's what it'll come down to. They're not just going to put me in because I'm a Kiwi from the other side of the world."
From fringe to the forefront, Lowe will soon be savouring the blood-stirring world of test rugby.
His tweaked boyhood dream is, almost, reality.
"You think New Zealand and Australia have a rivalry for the Bledisloe Cup, well, the Six Nations is another beast entirely. England and Scotland hate each other. It's genuine hatred for another country and you're only playing rugby against each other. That's reflected by how passionate the fans are. That's something I'm definitely looking forward to."