He only went because it promised to be a good night out in Auckland with his partner, but Wanganui captain Peter Rowe found himself back in after-match function mode on Friday night.
But this was no ordinary or obligatory captain's speech Rowe was shaking hands with Richie McCaw as he accepted the Heartland Championship Player of the Year trophy from the All Black captain at the national rugby awards.
So, with nothing prepared, the straight-talking loose forward sat down at SkyCity Convention Centre with television presenter Scotty Stevenson to discuss Samoa, Ruatoria, his future and Wanganui rugby in 2012.
"It's a good way to finish [the season]," he said.
"I was pretty surprised, I didn't expect it at all.
"You're up there more to just enjoy a good night. [My wife] was pretty keen to be there."
The recognition was yet another solid consolation for the Wanganui captain after the disappointment in East Coast's remarkable comeback victory in the Meads Cup final.
This included his captaincy of the New Zealand Heartland Championship XV on its November tour to Samoa.
And no, Rowe did not feel the need to offer McCaw named Player of the Year on Friday any advice on winning leadership, given his Heartland boys wrapped up their trip with a solid win over Samoa A while the All Black's experienced that tragic misstep against the English.
"It's good to have a yarn to Richie and the like. I was more trying to pick his brain [than offer tips] but it was special to receive it from a fella like him."
Both men are 31 and like McCaw, Rowe's passion to gear up again for another season is undiminished. He says the closer retirement looms, the more one wants to make the most of the remaining opportunities.
For him, that's another crack at bringing the Meads Cup trophy home to Cooks Gardens.
"You'd think as you get older you'd [want to] get away from it, but I'm really enjoying my rugby at the moment," he said.