Damian McKenzie may still have a future as a first five-eighth.
Late in Colin Cooper's reign with the Chiefs, the star fullback was moved into the No 10 jersey on a fulltime basis, with mixed results. The experiment was brought to a halt under Warren Gatland last year.
Having spent the full Super Rugby Aotearoa season with McKenzie at fullback this year, new Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan took the risk of moving him back into the No 10 jersey for their clash against the Crusaders on Saturday night.
McKenzie had not started a Super Rugby game at 10 since a 57-28 loss to the Crusaders in March 2019, but impressed in his return, making several key plays to lead his side to a 26-25 win over the competition leaders in Hamilton.
McMillan admitted the decision was a risk, but one that ultimately paid off.
"That's why he gets paid the big bucks," McMillan said.
"We weren't totally convinced that we were doing the right thing by putting him up there; we know he's a quality player but we were sort of going against what had been working for us the last three weeks.
"I thought he was really good and now we know we've got another option there."
This season, the Chiefs have been running either Kaleb Trask or Bryn Gatland in the No10 jersey, but moving McKenzie into the starting side allowed Chase Tiatia to get a start at fullback after a number of impressive outings from the bench.
Normally known for his fleet-footed running game, it was the game management and kicking side to McKenzie's game that took centre stage against the Crusaders, while he scored 16 of the Chiefs' 26 points.
Chiefs captain Brad Weber said it hasn't been a surprise to the team to see McKenzie back at his best and, after coming back into the game last year after a serious knee injury, the Chiefs star probably needed a year to find his way back into form.
"He sort of speaks for himself, doesn't he? He's been outstanding this year," Weber said.
"People's expectations of him last year, coming off a year-long injury were just so big. With an injury like that, it takes another year to come back and feel like yourself again. We're seeing that now; he just being himself, he's confident, he's pulling the trigger when he needs to and he's coming up with some clutch plays.
"I think the expectations after his injury were a bit too high; we really needed to temper that a little bit and now we're seeing the fruits of him working hard through his rehab, getting his legs back under him and now he's just being himself. It's mean."
With the win over the Crusaders, the Chiefs move to second on the ladder with just two weeks of round robin play remaining. They host the struggling Hurricanes in Hamilton next weekend, before meeting the Blues in Auckland.
The Chiefs hold a one-win advantage over the Blues in the standings, which sees the draw set up for a grandstand finish in Auckland.
The Highlanders also remain a chance of qualifying for the final, though results will need to go their way as the Blues and Chiefs have a game in hand over them.
With five wins, the Crusaders have a spot in the final, and can confirm hosting rights with a win against the Blues next weekend, before enjoying the bye in the last round of regular-season games.