Johnny Sexton had already signed on the dotted line before he led Ireland to victory in Rome last weekend, but the manner of his classy all-round performance showed just why he was keen to play on beyond the end of the season, and why the IRFU were happy to oblige.
The argument still stands that giving one of the younger out-halves game-time against a brutal Italian outfit would have been more beneficial, yet none of that is of Sexton’s concern.
For all that there has been a noticeable change in his demeanour in recent weeks when the 35-year-old has spoken about his future, he remains utterly confident in his ability to deliver at the very highest level.
The comparisons with Tom Brady have been put on the back-burner and instead Sexton has been more realistic about what lies ahead.
However, that doesn’t mean that, privately at least, he no longer believes he can play a role at the 2023 World Cup when he will be 38.
It would have been fascinating to listen in on the contract negotiations with the union because such is Sexton’s competitive nature, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if he was pushing for more than the one-year contract extension.
Realistically, though, the IRFU were never likely to hand out such a deal to a player, who despite his undoubted importance as captain of Leinster and Ireland, is very much in the autumn of his career.
Sexton knows that, though, which is perhaps why he has taken a more measured approach recently.
His new deal will take him up to the summer of 2022, but his situation remains very fluid rather than that being a definitive end point.
If Sexton is fit and still playing well, he could be offered another extension to take him up to the end of the World Cup, which will be looming large on the horizon at that stage.
All in all, it’s a good deal for everyone. Sexton retains his lucrative central contract, Ireland keep hold of their chief playmaker, while Leinster don’t have to foot the entire bill, as they would have to do had the union decided to take him off their payroll.
Even in the current difficult financial climate, offers from abroad were unlikely to be in short supply as clubs recognise what Sexton can still offer.
No one is getting ahead of themselves after what was a routine win at the Stadio Olimpico, but at the same time, it would be foolish to overlook the difference Sexton made to Ireland’s attacking shape.
Taking the ball flat to the line, Sexton tore the porous Italian defence to shreds, while he made what was a brilliant try-scoring pass for Keith Earls look easier than it actually was.
Kicking eight from eight was the icing on top of an excellent performance that was key to Ireland delivering much more from an attack point of view.
Of course, Andy Farrell would prefer if a younger No 10 was in situ by now, or at least piling the pressure on his veteran talisman, but the reality is, neither Billy Burns nor Ross Byrne are going to usurp Sexton.
Joey Carbery’s return will drastically improve the situation, while Harry Byrne’s untimely head injury may deny the talented 21-year-old a chance to prove himself in a big game against Ulster on Saturday.
Munster are downplaying the excitement around Carbery and with the younger Byrne brother still finding his feet, Farrell will be comforted by having Sexton around for the foreseeable future to help ease the inevitable transition. Until that happens and Ireland have someone else in place, it makes no sense to usher Sexton towards the exit door.
He might not be Farrell’s first-choice 10 come the World Cup, but Sexton could still be involved, even if it is in a supporting role.
When asked about his future last week, Sexton smiled when he pointed out the number of good young 10s coming through at Leinster.
The man thrives on proving people wrong and as he faces up to the challenges that lie ahead, he will be energised by those who continue to write him off. He knows, however, that running the show against Italy must be backed up in the Scotland and England games.
Sexton has been around the block more than once and he might well go again because this one-year deal does not necessarily mean the end of the road for him.