For Northland rugby icon Tom Robinson, last night couldn't have come soon enough.
The big lock finally returned to the rugby field for the Blues in the first Super Rugby clash of 2020 against the Chiefs in Auckland after missing the entire Mitre 10 Cup campaign with Northland last year through injury.
Robinson's 2019 injury woes stemmed from a torn meniscus during last year's Super Rugby campaign, in which the man - recognised across the country thanks to his orange locks - was a stand-out for the Auckland side.
After an operation at the end of the Super season, there were hopes Robinson would return for the Taniwha in the middle of their 10-game season but after learning he needed another operation to repair the damage, the former Kerikeri local was stuck on the sideline as Northland limped to a two-win/eight-loss record.
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With every reason to toss his toys and throw up his hands in frustration, Robinson didn't let the news get him down.
Come the end of the season, he was touted by his Taniwha peers as one of the most influential players in the squad through his motivation off the field.
Now, with a good preseason under his belt, Robinson was eager to get out on the field and get stuck into Super Rugby 2020.
"Obviously there are a lot of nerves and stuff and there always are, but we are just ready to get into it, get stuck in and get the show on the road," he said.
While he admitted he was disappointed not to further develop his skills with playing time after a successful Super Rugby campaign, Robinson said he knew he needed to prioritise his body over game time.
"I guess I was looking forward to getting another chance to have some time to really nail some things I'd been working on."
"That's just life, it throws some curve balls but you've just got to get on with it otherwise you sit around moping and it delays [the injury] even more.
Robinson is no stranger to injury as in 2015 and 2017, the lock was sidelined by ACL injuries.
"I've got a pretty good mindset around [injuries], at one point you've just got to get on with it," he said.
"The only thing you can work on is getting back out there as quick as you can and I reckon after every injury I've come back a better player."
Robinson said he valued mental strength above almost all other qualities and stressed the importance of taking time to recharge.
"I just find if I have a day off and I stay inside all day, you don't feel ready to go, whereas if you get out to the ocean or the bush, you feel so much better."
Despite of the Blues' recent record of poor results compared to New Zealand's four other Super Rugby sides, Robinson believed the culture of this year's team is the best he's seen it - a possible sign of good things to come.
While he was adamant in putting the Blues' success above his own, Robinson said this season and those to come were all inspired by the primary goal of becoming the best rugby player he can be.
"I'll just work away at what I need to do for the team to win and then for me, I just want to continue to work to be the best and whatever comes from that, comes from that."