The last decade has been a rollercoaster for the Black Caps, and manager Mike Sandle has been holding on the entire ride.
The man they call Roman has been with the team since September 2011. His road to becoming the manager has been different to what most people would expect. He spent 24 years in the police with the Armed Offenders Squad working as a dog handler and in gang intelligence. At the same time he managed to fit in managing the Taranaki Rugby team and the New Zealand under-19 rugby team.
In 2009, he took up an opportunity to manage the Blues rugby team, before securing the role of Black Caps manager in 2011 – and the rest, as they say, is history.
He's now nearing the back end of his 14-day stay in managed isolation in Auckland after winning the World Test Championship final against India in England last month. Sandle admits he would've never imagined the team would lift the mace and has had plenty of time to reflect on his journey in quarantine.
He says it's hard not to go past the dismal test against South Africa in Cape Town in 2013, where the Black Caps were rolled for 45. He remembers that day very clearly, and he says that moment was the catalyst for change.
That night he went to Brendon McCullum's room, along with coach Mike Hesson and assistant Bob Carter.
"It wasn't planned, it was very impromptu, we just sat down and had a few beers and we talked about how we were perceived and what the public thought of us," Sandle says.
"Out of that we decided the way we wanted to go forward and how we want to play our cricket. We spoke about developing our own style, because in the past we've tried to copy Australia or England."
While most players and the coaching staff changed their approach from that day forward, Sandle's philosophy remained the same, putting players' wellbeing at the forefront.
Another catalyst was the death of Australian batsman Philip Hughes. The Black Caps were playing their third and final test against Pakistan in Sharjah in November 2014. Sandle says it was a pivotal point in the team's journey, making them realise they were just playing a game.
"It brought the fun and enjoyment back, the guys played without a care in the world. They realised Phil's death was much more serious."
Being involved in the New Zealand cricket team is no easy feat. Pre-Covid, contracted players and management were away for 250 days of the year. Sandle prides himself on being someone to talk to about anything. It brings back the recurring theme of wellbeing over cricket.
"When you're away overseas, you can't jump in your car and see your parents or best mate for a yarn. Small problems can soon become big problems or you can start jumping at shadows. A problem shared is a problem halved; it's about being an ear for someone.
"That's where the empathy comes out."
Being empathetic and supportive has made the biggest difference for the players. Retiring Black Caps wicketkeeper batsman BJ Watling says Sandle keeps a calm, relaxed approach in everything he does, which feeds to the team.
"Obviously there are times where things are pretty tough and there's a bit of pressure around, and one of his qualities is remaining consistent, which certainly helps the team."
Watling also describes Sandle as the team dad.
"If anyone needs anything or is in a bit of trouble, they'll go to 'Rome', and he normally has some pretty good answers."
Sandle has the logistics and managing players sorted, but when it comes to the bat and ball, he's no expert, just an avid fan.
"I don't pretend to know anything about cricket, and I certainly don't. I've learnt a bit more about it now since I started."
He leaves the coaching to the experts, and makes sure the team can get around the world or the country safely and efficiently, so all the players need to worry about is the game itself.
It's been an emotional journey for Sandle, spending many months away at a time from his wife and two daughters. But winning the World Test Championship in England was special for Sandle both on and off the field.
He was reunited with eldest daughter Rebecca who lives in London.
"I hadn't been able to see Rebecca because of our secure bubble, but I was able to see her on the last night which was pretty emotional for me. Whenever you're away you want to share it with people closest to you."
Sandle's had plenty of time to reflect in MIQ, and he says his mind often wanders back to tougher times.
"I think having some scar tissue makes you appreciate the good times even more. It's taking its time to sink in."
The Black Caps' quarantine contingent is set free on Saturday, Covid permitting. First on Sandle's list is a roady back home to New Plymouth, to finally put his feet up in his newly built home, reflecting on a whirlwind two months on the road, becoming world test champions.