For the Taniwha's Jaycob Matiu, injury has been a double-edged sword this season.
Injuries to fellow forward pack members Matt Matich and Aorangi Stokes in the first Northland Mitre 10 Cup game of season against Southland in August gave the imposing No 8 his chance against Auckland the following week.
However, Matiu will be watching from the stands this afternoon as the Taniwha run out one last time in 2019 against Otago at Semenoff Stadium. It will be Matiu's second game out with a knee injury which he picked up against Wellington on September 28.
Looking at his statistics over the season, Matiu's presence will be sorely missed for tactical and mental reasons. After round eight of the competition, Matiu led the number of total carries (96) and positive gainline carries (51) even after not playing the first game of the season.
Even after last weekend's round where Matiu was injured, the dynamic player still led the competition in positive gainline carries and was fourth in the number of total carries.
But perhaps Matiu's greatest value to the team was in his effect on the players around him. After each game, the Taniwha choose a "players' player", someone who played with pride in the jersey and inspired his fellow teammates.
Matiu won the award in his first game against Auckland in round two and would go on to win it twice more in succession to make it three times this season. No other Taniwha player had won the award more than once this season.
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But in a cruelly predictable turn of events, Matiu joined a long list of injured players, which had grown to a season-high of 10 players before their game against Tasman last weekend.
The impact of having so many players removed from contention has been dramatic for the Taniwha this season, as they look to break an eight-game losing streak today.
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Despite this season's dismal returns, Matiu still found positives and work-ons to take from 2019's Mitre 10 Cup.
"I know we haven't been getting too many wins on the board, but I think we've put pride back into the jersey with the last couple games we've had," he said.
"I think we've played well considering, with injuries and all that but I think we definitely need to work on our travelling games."
Having played over 30 games for the Taniwha, Matiu was told at the start of the season that he needed sharpen up if he wanted a place in the starting 15, something which gave him the hunger to improve.
"I was expecting [not to start] the first game but it didn't mean it didn't hurt, I was a bit gutted I didn't get to play and head down with the boys to Southland.
"I guess it worked in my favour, I came back hungry, trained hard that week and a few injuries so I got a shot and I took it."
It was that hunger which earned him the first of three players' player awards and for Matiu, it was all about playing in the moment.
"My mindset was taking it game by game, I wasn't worried about the game after the one I was playing, I just knew that there was one coming up and I just had to give it all."
Matiu's chance of finishing the season strong was quickly taken away within 20 minutes against Wellington playing in the capital two week ago. Moving sharply to his side to make a tackle, it was thought Matiu's kneecap momentarily dislocated and then went back into place.
"I walked off fine, unassisted and I was quite focused on the game. [After that] I guess I'd been sitting down for about 10 minutes and I hopped up and I couldn't even walk," he said.
"As soon as I got back to sheds I thought, 'sh** that's the season'."
While he was gutted to know his season was over, Matiu acknowledged how many players in the squad had fared worse when it came to injury.
One player Northland fans were excited to see this season was dynamic flanker Tom Robinson, who became a cult figure for the Blues Super Rugby team this year thanks his in part to his incredible work rate and his flowing orange locks.
Robinson had been expected to return from an ACL injury in the first half of the competition, but he required another surgery which ruled him out for the Taniwha in 2019.
Matiu said Robinson, nicknamed Sauce, had been a huge help to the squad even if he hadn't made an appearance on the park.
"The stuff [Robinson] does behind the scenes, he just loves it, he loves the team more than anything, he's always positive, he never drops his lip and he always helps wherever he can."
Matiu, a proud club rugby man for Whangārei's Hora Hora Rugby Club, was modest when it came to addressing his exemplary statistics this season and even thought it was a joke by his teammates at first.
"I thought the boys were pulling my leg when they said it, I didn't really realise," he said with a laugh.
"I'm not too much of a fan on stats like that, but I guess if it is [real], I'll take it."
While his pain in not turning out for the Taniwha today was clear to see, Matiu was hoping both the players and fans could come together and create something special to finish the season.
"We've just got nothing to lose, it's our last home game, we are in front of our people, in front of our home, we've just got to look forward to it.
"We love performing at home in front of our people, win or lose we know they've got our backs so hopefully for one last game, they can all be there and support us."
The Taniwha kickoff today at 2.05pm at Semenoff Stadium after the Northland women's team, the Kauri, play a Farah Palmer Cup quarterfinal against Taranaki as a curtainraiser at 11.35am.