Hawke's Bay loose forward Solomone Funaki had to wait three seasons to get his first start for the Magpies, but when it finally came he certainly made the most of it.
The 26-year-old Tongan was man of the match in last Sunday's victory over Taranaki, with two tries on top of a strong overall performance.
"Not too bad for the first time starting," Funaki laughed.
"Lungs were trying to keep up for the full 80, that's the first proper game I've had in a while."
Funaki has had to bide his time to get a run with four Super Rugby players ahead of him in the third-row pecking order: Gareth Evans, Devan Flanders, Marino Mikaele-Tu'u and Brendon O'Connor.
"It's a pretty tough and competitive but I try to keep my head up and fight for a spot," he said.
All that talent makes for a great learning environment though, and Funaki said he has picked up valuable insights from his colleagues, especially Evans and O'Connor.
"They're really experienced players and you learn a lot from them."
Openside flanker Brendon O'Connor suffered a head injury two weeks ago against Wellington, opening the door for Funaki to start in the No 7 jersey against Taranaki both last week and this week in Saturday's Mitre 10 Cup Championship semifinal.
Funaki has played almost exclusively at blindside or No 8 since coming to New Zealand from Tonga in 2015, but was always an openside when growing up on the island in his village of Fanga 'o Pilolevu in capital city Nuku'alofa.
Last week was an eventful one for Funaki, who was caught up in Napier's flooding on Monday.
It was a day off for the Magpies players, so he was at home on Shakespeare Rd on Bluff Hill with his partner and their 3-year-old daughter.
Funaki said it rained all day, but got steadily worse around 5pm "and suddenly we hear these big boulders hit the top of the house".
They thought it might have been one-off incident, but 10 minutes later a big pile of boulders and rocks went right through the sleepout outside their home: "They just came through the windows."
He said it was very scary and he was more worried for his family than anything else.
Luckily they were able to leave, thanks to a neighbour who owns the Angus Inn in Hastings, which has been used as emergency accommodation for families affected by the flooding and slips.
"He helped us to move, we went and stayed there for a couple of nights," Funaki said.
He and his family won't be returning to Shakespeare Rd – they moved into a new rental property in Onekawa on Tuesday.
"My partner and baby, they didn't wanna go back to that house."
All the disruption certainly didn't have a negative impact on Funaki's game last Sunday against Taranaki.
He said the team used what had happened as their primary motivation to play well, having secured the top seed for the Championship finals prior to kick-off.
"We had a talk just before we went out for the warm-up, that was the big thing for the boys," Funaki said.
"Our coach Mark Ozich was talking about, 'you need to play for your people, they are your supporters and they are behind you guys every time you guys play'.
"I was thinking of that too because I was in there, I was one of those people."
That is driving the team to beat Taranaki again on Saturday at McLean Park (4.35pm kick-off), with the Hawke's Bay Rugby Football Union offering free entry to the ground as a gesture to the people of Napier.
Solomone Funaki's job at openside flanker might even be easier this time around, with the Bulls' star No 7 Lachlan Boshier ruled out of the game due to injury.
Hawke's Bay Magpies
1. Pouri Rakete-Stones, 2. Ash Dixon (captain), 3. Joe Apikotoa, 4. Geoff Cridge, 5. Tom Parsons, 6. Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, 7. Solomone Funaki, 8. Devan Flanders, 9. Folau Fakatava, 10. Caleb Makene, 11. Jonah Lowe, 12. Neria Fomai, 13. Stacey Ili, 14. Lolagi Visinia, 15. Kurt Baker
Bench: 16. Jacob Devery, 17. Jason Long, 18. Namatahi Waa, 19. Isaia Walker-Leawere, 20. Gareth Evans, 21. Connor McLeod, 22. Lincoln McClutchie, 23. Ollie Sapsford
1. Jared Proffit, 2. Bradley Slater, 3. Reuben O'Neill, 4. Jarrad Hoeata, 5. Mitchell Brown (captain), 6. Tom Florence, 7. Mitchell Crosswell, 8. Pita Gus Sowakula, 9. Warwick Lahmert, 10. Stephen Perofeta, 11. Lewis Ormond, 12. Brayton Northcott-Hill, 13. Lukas Halls, 14. Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, 15. Jayson Potroz
Bench: 16. Ricky Riccitelli, 17. Chris Gawler, 18. Ben May, 19. Findlamor Hoeata, 20. Rhodes Featherstone, 21. Lisati Milo-Harris, 22. Daniel Rona, 23. Codey Rei