Tane the Taniwha is injury-free and raring to run out for the 50th time for his beloved province.
The Taniwha mascot of the Northland Mitre 10 Cup team, is arguably fitter than any of the match-day 22, having missed just two games in the last five years— one due to a sore tail and the other he'd rather not mention.
Derek Browning, aka Tane the Taniwha, will lead the Northland team on to the QEB Stadium in Albany in the Mitre 10 Cup opening match against North Harbour on August 16.
It will mark his 50th appearance in the distinctive garb since first donning the mascot outfit back in 2013.
"It was the first game for (Northland) coaches Derren Witcombe and George Konia in 2013 when I became their mascot. They left to coach elsewhere and now both are back together in my 50th game."
Although Northland lost to Waikato in the Ranfurly Shield match 31-22 in Hamilton, Tane the Taniwha made media headlines for "bad behaviour".
"I painted a cowbell on a piece of cardboard and stomped on it. The crowd threw everything they could on me but that was a lot of fun. I was there to take the Shield," he recalled.
Notching up 100 games is what he's aiming for and talks glowingly about keeping the legacy of the mascot alive for as long as he can.
"That many games can be achieved in a short timeframe if Northland start making the playoffs regularly. It's going to create a legacy for the Taniwha mascot."
As a child, Browning remembers watching the Taniwha mascot in Ranfurly Shield parades down Bank St and that enthralled him.
"Tane the Taniwha is the only semi professional mascot that travels to both home and away games and my sponsors make that possible.
"I want the little fellas to think that one day they wanna be a mascot like I did when I was a child."
New players every year always brought new enthusiasm and spark for Northland team and its supporters, he said, and gave his take on this year's squad.
"Rene (Ranger) is back. Hopefully Jack Goodhue is in the mix too so we'll have a good pool of players with Super Rugby experience this year. It's going to be an exciting year for the team."
He acknowledged the support of his sponsors, family and friends for achieving the milestone and says more is to come.
"Players come and go but Tane the Taniwha always stays."