Just as Francis Saili had a difficult All Black debut when he dropped the ball with his first touch and gave up a converted try - a start worse than that is hard to imagine - so he has had a difficult two years since.
Now he has signed with Munster and will leave for a two-year contract after the Blues' season finally peters out in nine games' time. The deal broke only days after Charles Piutau, who is moving to Ulster, talked about his own new contract in Ireland, but, while there are similarities, the two cases are very different.
Piutau, a consistent and powerful presence at fullback or on the wing, is very much still in the All Black frame, but Saili's career - after his high point in 2013 when he played in that test at Waikato Stadium and recovered reasonably well from his early mistake of gifting a try to Juan Manuel Leguizamon - has gone mostly downhill. His only other test came a few months later when he played against Japan in Tokyo. Frankly, it's not a great surprise that he's left for pastures new.
After playing the 2012 and 2013 ITM Cup seasons for North Harbour, second-five Saili returned to Auckland last year and struggled to get a game. For the Blues last year he played seven matches in a season interrupted by foot and ankle injuries and the midfield presence of one Ma'a Nonu.
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At his best, Saili, now 24, was a quick and direct ball carrier. He is not the biggest midfielder around but his alertness for an opponent's defensive lapse, and decisiveness - which has now all but disappeared for whatever reason - meant he was the rugby equivalent of a surgeon's scalpel.
Saili, who told the Herald last year he was keen to take on more of a leadership role at the Blues this year in the absence of Nonu, has been overtaken in the All Black frame by Malakai Fekitoa and Ryan Crotty. It has been a quick fall from grace - highlighted perhaps by the fact he was dropped to the bench for last weekend's 23-16 defeat by the Blues against the Chiefs in Hamilton after his repeated losing of the ball in contact against the Waratahs in Sydney the week prior.
Saili, who will link with former Crusaders first-five Tyler Bleyendaal at Munster, was quoted on the club's website as saying: "I believe this is a fantastic opportunity for me and I am fortunate to move to a club held in such high regard, with values and traditions I can relate to from my time here in the Blues. This experience will stand to me as a player and I believe I can continue to improve and grow within the Munster set-up.
"As difficult as it is to leave the Blues I look forward to the exciting challenge ahead."
Head coach Anthony Foley talked about Saili's physical attributes as suiting the Northern Hemisphere's style. That may be so, but Saili's career in New Zealand will be remembered as being one of great potential becoming one of great disappointment.
After a torrid few weeks for Blues coach John Kirwan - Piutau's announcement last week was followed by the Blues' seventh loss - Kirwan will today present some good news in the form of Steven Luatua's contract extension with the franchise and New Zealand Rugby.