Jonah Lomu's time on the rugby sideline is not being wasted; the big man is helping out on the coaching front at North Harbour as they prepare for the start of this year's NPC.
A shoulder injury on his comeback game at Twickenham in the Martin Johnson testimonial game in June has sidelined him for the NPC, but he's not sitting about twiddling his thumbs.
Harbour coach Allan Pollock has incorporated Lomu's expertise into his coaching plans and he's delighted with how it's working.
"I use him as another pair of eyes," Pollock said yesterday. "We use him to have a look at what the backs are trying to do on attack and defence and play the devil's advocate.
"He's someone who has come in with a totally different pair of eyes, and as he's experienced some fantastic things in New Zealand and world rugby he's adding more depth to what we do."
Pollock, in the second season of his second term in charge of North Harbour, said he believes that as Lomu is getting to enjoy the role, so his frustration at not being able to play is growing.
"He's feeling the same frustration that rugby players all over New Zealand feel. Players are passionate about playing the game. Take that away and they become a little upset.
"But I've been impressed by the depth and clarity of his thinking around the game. He's evolved from being a natural and turning himself into a scholar of the game."
Pollock said Lomu's contribution to Harbour came on two levels - the coaching aspect, and providing an ideal role model for the young Polynesian players.
Pollock will name his team tonight for Saturday night's opening NPC game against Auckland. One player ruled out is wing Viliame Waqaseduadua, who suffered concussion in the final minutes of their win over Waikato last weekend.