The phone call came from the Dallas Cowboys. They wanted Jonah Lomu and they were offering plenty.
Their timing was on the money.
Lomu didn't feel he was making any headway with the All Blacks and was pessimistic about making the squad travelling the next month to the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa.
Eric Rush persuaded Lomu to "play one more game with the brown brothers" in the North-South match in Dunedin while Frank Bunce, Walter Little and Michael Jones gave more encouragement.
"If it wasn't for that, I would have been on the plane, it was that close," Lomu told the Legends in Black dinner in Auckland.
He was fearsome in the trial, running through Jeff Wilson, Mike Brewer and others, and taciturn All Black coach Laurie Mains asked his senior All Blacks how he could get on the same wavelength as the young Tongan wing. Treat everyone as individuals, he was told, tell Jonah he had a great game.
Mains did his best and when the senior players asked Lomu what had happened, he said Mains was trying to kiss his backside.
It was another piece in the unfolding puzzle about getting Lomu from his test debut the year before into serious shape for the All Blacks tilt at the World Cup.
The parts came together as Lomu lit up the tournament during the All Blacks' bold search for the title.
These days he tries to explain to his two sons what he used to do.
"There's a certain ad on TV where a certain person yells out 'Lomu, Lomu, Lomu' and my youngest son turns round to me and says 'Dad, ain't you a Lomu?' 'Yes son and you are too.' For me it is something I never thought would happen. Medically I was never meant to have kids and I was blessed with two and fatherhood has changed everything, your priorities become them and at the same time trying to explain to them what I have done in rugby.
"One takes it in and the other goes, 'yeah, yeah okay', and that's part of being their father and running around with them but one prefers to play golf and the other wants to box."
20 years ago, Lomu and the All Blacks missed out against the Springboks in an absorbing overtime final and in three subsequent offshore bids until Richie McCaw raised the Webb Ellis Cup at Eden Park in 2011.
Asked whether the All Blacks will win the RWC at Twickenham this year, Lomu replied "Is Big Bird Yellow?" He did not want to jinx the All Blacks campaign but they had the team to do it and just needed a bit of luck, like Stephen Donald turning up at the last minute in 2011.
The selection cull was the biggest drama for the All Blacks because they had a scary overload of talent in some positions.
The game had changed since his impact 20 years ago because everyone was expected to be a ball-player.
There were no vastly distinct roles for backs and forwards then.
"I didn't have to think too much other than see the try-line and head for it but the coaches had the hard part, they had to work things out, give us new ideas and plans.
They just pointed me in the right direction," Lomu said.
Sir Brian Lochore, the All Blacks' original RWC coach in 1987 and campaign manager in '95, interjected: "We were just lucky Jonah had white-line fever."
These days, Lomu travels extensively for speaking and promotional activities which requires a huge amount of planning to cope with the regular dialysis he needs.
He was asked whether he had a personal mantra he followed.
"I carry mine on my back," he said, "it's tattooed on it, 'Power Within'.
That stands for no one can change anything apart from yourself. You can't change anything inside you until you look inside you and when you go into battle, with your teammates as an All Black, you get into dark spots.
"The only person who can dig you out of there is yourself and that's when you start looking within you, and then you have to find that extra bit. You see your mate moving heaven and earth to get to where you are and you need to move as well.
When you do that, you find this black wave that happens and keeps on rolling and that's why I have it. It also became part of me dealing with rugby and then, taking that attitude to what I do in life and how I deal with the illness that I have.
"While I was in Wales I started getting that tattoo on my back and I don't have to look at it but I know it is there. If I need to look at it, I can turn around and look in the mirror and see it there.
"I live by it every day, and it's been part and parcel of my life."
The All Blacks would need a similar resolve if they were to repeat their World Cup triumph in October. They needed to keep expressing themselves as they had done in the last few years.
Nothing should be taken for granted, no matter the opposition ranking. The All Blacks have to treat everyone as a potential No 1 contender. If they have that attitude they can win but there are a lot of games ahead where luck and injuries will arrive but the All Blacks have player depth to deal with that. Striking the right cohesion and team harmony is also crucial.
"You are living in each others' back pockets the whole time and you are in a fishbowl, everybody is watching and hoping you mess up so that is a story of every week for them.
The whole world is looking at the All Blacks but they have the strength, the depth and the experience and everything there and I don't see why they wouldn't bring it back home."
Much of the rugby world still can't get enough of Lomu. He was in France not so long ago with his wife and two boys and went down the road to get a loaf of bread. Two hours later he returned after signing autographs and trying to explain that time-sharing to his family was the hardest part of a life that has not been private since 1995.
"I remember after the semifinal against England I went to buy some toothpaste and the whole mall followed me to the shop," he said.
"So here I was, stuck out the back in the storage cupboard, and waiting for the security guys to clear a passage so I could get back to my hotel. That's when I first realised my life wasn't my own," he said.
"It has let me see the world and given me the opportunity to grow as a person and also share this beautiful sport of ours.
Going from playing out at Wesley College in South Auckland to the highest honours with the All Blacks, that was a privilege and still continues today.
"At the same time, we have a saying 'once an All Black always an All Black' and when you go out there you are representing them whether you are wearing the jersey or not."
Lomu recalled arriving at Kuala Lumpur for the Commonwealth Games in 1998 thinking he'd be able to blend in with all the other athletes, when a bloke came through a door and said 'gidday Jonah, how are ya going?'" There were many bonuses though, like getting to train with Linford Christie.
"I wanted to be the best I could be in my position and I had to turn a lot more stones than a lot of people because of the medical side of it. But I wanted to be selected on my own merits, and if I was good enough to make the team that was fine, and if I wasn't, that was too.
"Even with the illness I wouldn't change anything. I'm proud to say I am a New Zealand-born Tongan who represents two countries and ran out there and did my best in an All Black shirt and, hopefully, I left it intact and handed it on."