A 34-year-old rugby player with a bum knee knows for certain only that the writing on the wall strongly hints of a career change in the near future.
Jerome Kaino is the player whose knee was repaired and it is suspect that the All Blacks can count on him to return, let alone stay at the top of the game. The reality, healthy knee or not, is that the moment comes when chasing and catching 19-year-olds begins to lose its appeal and feel more futile than fulfilling.
Prior to the surgery, it would have seemed that the All Blacks coaches would give him a last hurrah as No 6 against the Lions, even though decisions of that nature would seem slightly premature, as the first Test is not until June 7. Apparently, the strategy was to pick Kaino, and then take the time intervening to explore possible alternatives.
It is a tight window facing Kaino, even though the knee surgery, career ending during earlier eras, is now considered a minor procedure to repair a torn meniscus. He is expected to miss four to six weeks during recovery. He should have no trouble maintaining his fitness, but his form would certainly have to be questioned, along with his confidence in an uncertain knee.
The more likely scenario is to hold Kaino out until the Test with Samoa on June 16, with his on-ground time managed carefully.