Everyone – and there seem to be quite a few at the moment – wondering about Sam Cane's worth as an All Black and indeed as an All Blacks captain should cast their minds all the way back to last September, October and the first day of November.
The Rugby World Cup in Japan came and went less than a year ago but, perhaps not surprisingly given global events since, it all seems a lot more distant than that - and Cane's impact, worthiness and in one particular case absence, seem to have similarly been lost in the mists of time.
A bit like the All Blacks, Asia's first RWC began with extreme heat which transitioned into very stormy weather before conditions settled, albeit with a chill in the air, as if a new order was about to establish itself.
And Cane was often central to proceedings. In fact he was very good and probably confirmed himself as one of the best defensive players in the world. Don't allow a missed tackle on Highlanders back Mitch Hunt in a remarkable comeback by the visitors at FMG Stadium Waikato recently to cloud judgment because Cane is better than that and he has the receipts to prove it.
All those months ago in that first World Cup pool game against South Africa, Cane immediately struck up an excellent combination with fellow flanker Ardie Savea and No 8 Kieran Read in what was a relatively new loose trio.
Cane was the glue that bound the explosiveness of Savea and the power of Read together and the All Blacks missed him hugely when he was dropped to the bench for the semifinal against England after starring as part of a demolition job over Ireland in the quarter-final.
Cane made sure to press home his point in the bronze playoff victory over Wales – not by his words but by his actions. He can be a compelling speaker, though, and that's another reason why Ian Foster has picked him for the top job. He is also one of the best defenders the All Blacks have, if not the best, and tough, resilient, defenders are non-negotiables in test rugby, as is experience.
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It is usually when Super Rugby is well under way that the form of leading All Blacks is picked apart with a forensic intensity and Cane, the captain of a Chiefs team who are 0-5 in Super Rugby Aotearoa, is certainly on the receiving end at the moment. Actually, so is Beauden Barrett, but plenty have been in similar positions, including such greats as Aaron Smith, Dan Carter, Richie McCaw and Ma'a Nonu.
Cane's true value can't be fairly judged until the international season is under way, and given World Rugby have rubber-stamped New Zealand Rugby's proposal to host the Rugby Championship here, the test season could be intriguing (with a huge home advantage for Cane's men). It is here that Cane, a man who has endured the physical and emotional anguish of a broken neck, is likely to shine alongside similarly experienced players under a new coach determined to put last year's hard lessons to good use.
Super Rugby form is, of course, the only way uncapped players can present their arguments and Blues No 8 Hoskins Sotutu is making a compelling one.
Foster will be tempted to include Sotutu as a replacement for Read in the first test – whenever that is - and not only because the 22-year-old, who unfortunately currently has a knee injury, appears a huge talent. Sotutu's inclusion will allow Cane to play at blindside and Savea at openside - probably their best positions.
Cane and Savea must both start if fit which, fortunately for Foster, leaves No 8 as the biggest question and even that one doesn't appear to be that difficult.