Perception has dogged Victor Vito since he blasted into the national consciousness at the 2008 Wellington Sevens. The former Scots College pupil has been seen as too nice.
Educated, articulate and intelligent, his profile is at odds with the expectation of his on-field role.
Enforcers are not supposed to tackle law degrees or have thoughts that extend beyond eating lunch and smashing the next bloke. But Vito has always been a touch cerebral - the archetypal modern professional with varied interests and a balanced outlook.
None of this has any bearing on his ability to jump into Jerome Kaino's No 6 shirt and be as close to being a direct replacement as New Zealand could hope for.
Perception with Vito has not always been reality.
His test appearances to date have not bustled and frothed the way he and everyone else would have liked. But the lack of bite has nothing to do with any inherent issues of not being nasty enough.
It's a tricky business being an enforcer - not the sort of thing that comes quickly or easily. Kaino, lest anyone should have forgotten, took the better part of three years to become a world class presence.
Much like Vito, he was discovered early, not through his grafting, bruising work, but because he was a phenomenal raw athlete.
Kaino spent much of his time at St Kentigern College playing at fullback. He had pace, vision and an eye for the gap and the destructive side didn't always sit atop his agenda.
His first test in 2006 was entirely forgettable and he didn't get another crack until 2008. Even then, he was on-off, on-off and prone to going missing in big games.
It took until 2010 for Kaino to perfect the art of head-hunting. Only after more than 20 tests did he have the confidence and ability to terrify.
Vito is travelling down a similar path. His early career is scarily reminiscent of Kaino's. Vito emerged in the abbreviated game where his ability to beat people was such that there was serious consideration to playing him on the wing for Wellington. Much of his early work for the Hurricanes highlighted his love of the open spaces.
He was all about the ball-carrying back then; a million dollars in the loose, a difficult man to gauge in the tight. It wasn't so much that he didn't fancy it, he just wasn't sure how to get involved.
It didn't come naturally back then but he has slowly shown in the past two years that he's getting it.
This year with the Hurricanes, he's been a thunderous beast - happier when the jerseys are piling in and he's got to smash his way to safety. He has become a bruiser and owed his selection last night to that very fact.
The selectors could have chosen the more experienced Adam Thomson, who is a specialist blindside these days. Instead, they were com-pelled to go with Vito who they believe will continue to develop into the no-nonsense sort of character they are after.
Despite the fact he's a more natural No 8, they see him bringing the physical intensity they need on the side of the scrum.
Kaino showed throughout 2010 and 2011 that intimidation is critical: test football needs an edgy sort who won't go backwards or concede an inch. Thomson, for his vast range of skills, is not that type of player.
Vito, although he hasn't shown it consistently, has the potential to be that destructive force and he may be afforded most of the season to prove it.
"We are looking for Victor to bring his physical game," says coach Steve Hansen in regard to the skills they want to see from him at No 6. As to whether there is a constant battle to drive out that side of his game, given his natural disposition as a nice guy, Hansen says: "Jerome Kaino is a really nice guy. Brad Thorn is not a bad bloke either. Victor is maturing. He is a natural ball carrier but as he's matured, he's started to get better [at the physical side]."
Still only 25, there is a sense of Vito now being on the verge of fulfilling his destiny. It may take him the better part of the season, but by December, the loss of Kaino to Japan may be barely noticed and the perception of Vito entirely different.