All the preparation, the ups and downs of the season, and the aspirations go on the line in what is shaping as a classic Super Rugby final in Christchurch on Saturday.
The Crusaders, looking for their 10th title, and the competition new boys, the Jaguares, who are at the end of their fourth season and playing in their first final. It couldn't be scripted any better, and I can't wait to tune in from 7.35pm [NZT] on Saturday.
The loss of Ryan Crotty and Scott Barrett is a massive blow for the Crusaders given what's at stake. But if you look at it with your All Blacks hat on, it could be good news for Patrick Tuipulotu and Braydon Ennor.
I am looking forward to the climax of Super Rugby this weekend. It has been a great campaign by the Crusaders; they've done really well and shown that they clearly are the team to beat.
But I think the rise of the Jaguares has been the real success story of the Super Rugby season. I got asked earlier this year who was the team to watch at the Rugby World Cup and I said Argentina. And now, I stand behind that comment, 100 percent; Argentina will go into the World Cup buoyed by the way the Jaguares have been playing. Argentina have surpassed Australia among the Rugby Championship nations.
I am confident Argentina are in for a huge year; it's great for rugby in South America, the game couldn't be more on the rise there than it is right now. Given what the Jaguares did to the Brumbies over the weekend, I think the Crusaders will really need to up their game if they are going to come away with a victory.
This final is not a fait accompli at all, and I think it will be of Test-match standard. Just watching the crowd in Buenos Aires against the Brumbies, the Crusaders are lucky the final is not being played in Argentina. The passion of the Buenos Aires crowd and the way they got in behind the Jaguares was massive; I think the July 20 Test between the All Blacks and Argentina is going to be a huge contest, especially with several Crusaders left at home.
But back to the final, you have one Super professional side chock full of All Blacks and the other full of Pumas. The Jaguares have had a huge run of wins going into the game; the way they dismantled the Brumbies last week was hugely impressive, they just shifted up a gear.
One area that will be of interest in the final is the Jaguares' scrum. South Americans have always prided themselves on their scrummaging game but that was one area where the Brumbies were able to apply pressure on them.
This weekend I am sure the Crusaders will really target the Jaguares' scrum. We all know what the Crusaders' fallback option is: they go straight back to their foundation which is the key building blocks of the game of rugby, the set-piece.
If they get their set-piece right they take confidence away from other forward packs and they squeeze you. Defence is what the Crusaders pride themselves. I know it's a cliché, but its defence that wins championships.
The team that can defend best on Saturday night will come away the victor. At the same time, the Jaguares will not die wondering. They come over here with absolutely nothing to lose, are full of confidence and they will want to throw the ball around; they will want to play.
The worst thing any team can do in a final is go into their shell and try and defend it. You have got to go out and win this game.
There are always some true factors in determining Super Rugby championship success and one of them is the quality of your first five-eighth.
Richie Mo'unga is on top form and if you go through Super Rugby history it is the team with the best first-five that usually wins the competition. Mo'unga has been the best first five in Super Rugby this year. He has the little touches that come away with the points, he just pops up in the right place at the right time and he takes his opportunities.
Mo'unga doesn't sit back in the pocket and kick to the corners; he plays right up in your face on the line and he's got great reaction speed.
Joaquin diaz Bonilla has had a great season for the Jaguares also, and he has emerged as a real general of their backline; he also has a very good kicking game. It is shaping as a great battle between the two No. 10s.
Hopefully refereeing will not be a factor in the game, as it has been so often this year. The best way for either side is to take the referee out of the equation by not getting in positions that could prove costly.
While being in a final is exciting, the Jaguares will need to settle into the contest early; they can't let the occasion get to them. They will have to contain, or keep a lid on, their Latin temperament. It is vital they control that level of excitement and don't go over the top and do something completely stupid; we've seen that happen in the past with the likes of the Italians, the French and the South Americans.
Composure is so important. Whether it is a Test match or a final, you don't win it in the first 10 minutes. You've got to take the initial hits, and nail the big moments. Everyone wants to get a touch of the ball, put a huge tackle on or make an impact, but it's the 70 minutes afterwards where you need your consistency and to stay in your systems.
That's what is going to win the game and that's why the Crusaders, in my mind, are the most professional side in this competition. They don't look at what they're going to do in the first two or three minutes, they are looking at the 80th minute and are always prepared to play through to the end.