Hurricanes coach Jason Holland has paid tribute to the departing Ngani Laumape, after finishing his New Zealand playing career on a high against the Reds on Friday.
Laumape, 28, is due to depart New Zealand for French club Stade Francais. And barring an unlikely string of results that would see his side reach the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman final, has played his last game as a Hurricane.
In his farewell to Wellington, Laumape shone in the 43-14 victory over the Australian champion Reds, scoring the opening try of the night and setting up youngster Ruben Love for another in the Hurricanes' convincing win.
What's more, Laumape could have - and on another night should have - had a hat-trick, denied by a brilliant try-saving tackle from Reds winger Filipo Daugunu in the first half and earned a penalty try in the second after an infringement from Bryce Heggarty.
When he was substituted after 75 minutes, Laumape was given a standing ovation by the Hurricanes faithful, having played six seasons in the capital since switching from rugby league and NZ Warriors in 2016.
Like the fans, Hurricanes coach Holland also made his appreciation known for Laumape.
"He was really motivated to play tonight, it's been a pretty special five years for him with us," Holland said.
"I was there when he first came to the Hurricanes, we came to the Hurricanes at the same time and I sort of watched him progress from a strong player to be a bit of a beast with the ball but also a smart footy player.
"I'm pleased for a lot of the boys and I'm pleased for him that he finished that way."
Replacing a departing All Black is never easy, but Holland is confident that the Hurricanes' midfield stocks are healthy enough to thrive in 2022.
"Whenever you lose someone like Ngans they're hard to replace, but we've got a few good options there," he said.
"Obviously Peter Umaga-Jensen, who was injured tonight, Billy's [Proctor] gone really well and Danny [Toala] is still there.
"It's obviously a loss but you always replace people, that's just the way the game goes."
But, should the Blues and Crusaders both lose their final Super Rugby Trans-Tasman round robin games, then the Hurricanes would sneak into the inaugural final and see Laumape finish his New Zealand career against the Highlanders in Dunedin.