The Taniwha may have a case of the Blues this year, especially after experiencing their seventh straight loss as the ship went down 37-5 to Bay of Plenty on Friday night.
However, the dismal season has worked in Kara Pryor's favour. Recently signing with the Blues Super Rugby franchise for two years, Pryor said his decision to play for Northland in the ITM Cup has made his foray into the professional rugby scene worthwhile.
"I moved up here last year and Dan [Pryor] just kept telling me how good it was up here and how good the footy was, so I decided to make the move, and it's probably one of the best moves I've ever made," Pryor said. Topping the tackle counts with an 88.5 per cent success rate for Northland in the past two months, Pryor's reckless ambition on the field has seen him emulate the versatile qualities of his stablemate, and brother, Dan Pryor.
Picking up the slack for the Taniwha in the season's opening matches, Kara's work rate was a highlight for footy pundits in the absence of his older brother.
It is also no surprise he has been in the top 10 of the ITM Cup tackle stats in recent weeks.
"We've been making a lot of tackles this year, that's for sure. I'd actually like to trade that stat for a bit of ball retention," he said. "I've got to do what I've got to do for the team. I'm just willing to do whatever.
A vital part to the Old Boys Marist premier side's mix this season, an injury to Pryor's left ankle put rugby in the ice box temporarily. Despite this, he made it back for Northland's 2015 ITM Cup campaign and has not looked back since.
"I'm really enjoying my footy, coming off injury from the club season. I'm getting better each week coming off it, so that's all I can ask for really. The ITM, it's quite a rigorous competition. It's game after game, so it's not really as fast as it would be if I was resting but it's doing good."
Putting on a good show for new Blues head coach Tana Umaga last weekend, Pryor said the weight of expectation to perform in front of him was apparent. However, the recent confirmation of his signing with the Blues comes as a welcome opportunity for the 24-year-old.
"It was a big game for me, I knew it was with him there, but every game's a big game really," he said. "I'm talking with the Blues, so fingers crossed that all comes out. Just head down, bum up. I've just got to do what I can for the team, that's my philosophy."