Ireland play the All Blacks on Saturday morning, and the already-intriguing three Test series was given a generous heaping of spice overnight when it was confirmed New Zealand head coach Ian Foster would be entering covid isolation, and selector Joe Schmidt would be stepping in to to lend a hand.
The decision has obviously raised eyebrows up here because of Schmidt's long-standing involvement in Irish rugby.
However, when the All Blacks announced Schmidt would be a selector back in December, it was clear he would have a hand in drafting New Zealand's tactical approach to stopping Ireland. Today's announcement just puts Schmidt in the limelight.
What's more interesting is how the news is being interpreted in certain quarters in New Zealand.
Support for Foster seems mixed at best, and there is lingering dissatisfaction amongst the rugby-man Kiwi public about Foz's two-year term as All Blacks head coach. New Zealand's last two outings were defeats against Ireland in Dublin in November, and France the week after.
Writing for Stuff, Paul Cully described the news as a "potential turning point" for New Zealand rugby.
First, the fire still burns brightly. Second, you can take the boy out of New Zealand...the All Blacks clearly hold enormous emotional appeal for him.
Schmidt’s arrival could also be the turning point the All Blacks need as they look ahead to the Rugby World Cup in 2023. Unburdened by loyalty or sentimentality to long-serving All Blacks, Schmidt can bring a ruthless edge to a side that has drifted sideways for two years. This could be big.
While there were calls from All Blacks fans on Twitter to have Crusaders coach Scott Robertson parachuted in, supporters seem intrigued to see what Schmidt will bring to the role.
— Poor Maowree (@Rotowarriors) June 27, 2022
Assistant coach Brad Mooar said Foster contracting covid alongside assistant coaches John Plumtree and Scott McLeod plus players David Havili and Jack Goodhue would not derail preparations for playing Ireland.
"We need hands on the ground and that's a wonderful resource. Who better to have than Joe to come in and cast an eye over a bit of detail and put his shoulder to the wheel for us,"
"I'm confident with the machine around us and the way it's set up we won't miss a beat.
"It's disappointing for Foz, Plum, Jack, Dave and now Scott who have been looking forward to this week for a long time and now won't be able to be on the ground.
"We're seamless. It's not an unforeseen event. Covid has been around us for a couple of years now and we've planned for what will happen in these types of situations."
You can be sure Schmidt's fingerprints will be all over New Zealand's game plan this week.