It's the stuff of rugby league legend - an injured player gets up from his hospital bed to take the field in a crucial match.
For budding Whangarei rugby league player Anthony Murray-Paniona it could become reality, with the 9-year-old hoping to be discharged from Whangarei Hospital today to take the field for the Portland Panthers under-10 team in a curtain-raiser for the NZ Warriors v Gold Coast Titans NRL pre-season game at Toll Stadium, in Whangarei.
But even if he doesn't make it on to the field, Anthony still managed to get up close to some of the star players when the Titans team visited the children's ward at the hospital yesterday.
Mum Francine Murray-Pitts said Anthony loved league - with the Warriors his favourite team, followed by Canterbury Bulldogs and North Queensland Cowboys - and he had been looking forward to taking the field tomorrow for a while.
However an allergic reaction saw him admitted to the hospital, but that didn't dampen his enthusiasm for the sport. "He's been looking forward to the Titans coming, counting down the days then the hours then the minutes. He was in total awe of them when they came into his room. He was buzzing," Ms Murray-Pitts said.
"It was really exciting for him, but I was a bit nervous, really."
She said he hoped to be discharged today and still hoped to play, but if he couldn't take the field he would definitely be at Toll Stadium for the game.
The Warriors and Titans players did plenty of mixing and mingling ahead of the game. The Warriors players will be at a fans event at Harvey Norman, Whangarei, from 10am today.