There will be some brave young men playing with heavy hearts in McCarthy's Transport Ruapehu jerseys on Saturday, after having to say goodbye to their uncle.
Club stalwart and Ruapehu Senior co-coach Mark (Boof) Green died on Wednesday afternoon when his truck rolled on Tohunga Rd, State Highway 49, just after 12.30pm.
At the time of writing, it is not yet known if the 54-year-old suffered a medical event or what circumstances caused the accident.
The news has devastated the Ohakune club, for whom Green had served multiple roles as coach, manager, media spokesman and volunteer.
The playing group met on Wednesday evening, and it was decided they will still play their crucial Tasman Tanning Premier fixture with Settler's Honey Ngamatapouri, while the Seniors will meet Border on what had been planned as Ruapehu's Old Timers Day.
"At this stage, it's going ahead," said club secretary Maxine Hakaraia.
"The team's had a lot of injuries, but they'll come out of the woodwork and we'll give it a go.
"He's going to leave a huge hole in our club – he was the glue that kept everyone together.
"It's not easy as a volunteer, but he was the guy – because he was giving his fullest, you would continue to do it."
Recent Ruapehu president and current committee member Steve McDougall said the club will rally around Green's extended whānau.
"He's definitely a rock, and it's unbelievable. Words can't describe the loss for all of us.
"A pillar of the club, he had his hand up for everything."
Green guided several of the current Premier squad literally from the time they were schoolchildren – perhaps his proudest moment as a coach being in 2015 when the Ruapehu Seniors defeated consecutive six-time champions Kelso Hunterville 28-7 at Cooks Gardens.
"It's been a long time coming. I'm so proud of these boys," he said that day.
"They can move up to [playing] Premier now with a medal under their belt."
Green went with them and was the team manager of the Ruapehu Premier squad that won back-to-back championships in 2017-18.
McDougall said in recent times, Green had wanted to step back in order to watch more of his grandchildren playing sport, but this season helped reorganise the new Ruapehu Senior squad, which had been defunct since 2019.
"The option was there for me to drop down. Hopefully we can get ourselves up and running again, like we used to have it," Green had said.
McDougall felt the unselfish act summed up Green's loyalty.
"He wanted to do the club proud; he stood up and took that mantle.
"He lived and breathed that club. Just a true gentleman."
While the loss far outweighs anything that could happen on a rugby field, Saturday's game was to be crucial for Ruapehu's hopes of keeping a 13-year playoff streak alive, while Ngamatapouri want to stay in the hunt for their first ever Premier playoffs berth.
In an interview conducted before news of Green's death was known, Ngamatapouri manager Gerald Pearce said the team was determined to follow their 17-12 upset of Wanganui Car Centre Kaierau with wins over Ruapehu and Dave Hoskin Carriers Marist to book their ticket.
"It was actually fairly early in the second half [we scored match-winner over Kaierau]. We should have had a few more, but the last pass was intercepted and [Karl] Pascoe nearly went the other end.
"If you want to work it all out, it doesn't matter what happens, it's going to play out with Marist and someone else [us or Ruapehu]."
After their default to Byford Readimix Taihape on May 29 was followed by the Queen's Birthday Weekend break, Ngamatapouri were able to care for their walking wounded and have received reinforcements.
Former Waverley Harvesting Border and 2019 Steelform Whanganui loose forward Chris Breuer has come back from Manawatū, while outside back Joeli Rauca joins from Central Hawke's Bay.
Pearce has also been pleased with the form of the Wirihana brothers – Te Rui and Te Rau – the latter scoring a try and taking over the goalkicking against Kaierau when pivotal first-five Brook Tremayne suffered a broken knee.
"The forwards were pushing their forwards around, so it's looking quite positive."
In the other games, Marist want to show new Grand Hotel Challenge Shield holders Taihape they are no longer the weak unit that got slaughtered 81-14 on May 15, when they rematch at Spriggens Park.
Limping into the playoffs with their growing injury toll, Kaierau will host a Border team smarting from the Shield loss at the Country Club.
• Content supplied by the Whanganui Rugby Union