There is some light at the end of the tunnel for James Broadhurst.
Remember him? Outstanding second-rower who earned a test cap in July 2015 against the Springboks after a stellar Super Rugby season with the Hurricanes. He was even a nominee for Super Rugby player of the season at the last Steinlager Awards.
But just weeks after that test 12 months ago, Broadhurst was badly concussed playing for Taranaki in their ITM Cup opener against Wellington. He hasn't been sighted on a rugby field since as he works to rid himself of the troublesome symptoms. The 28-year-old is contracted to the Hurricanes until the end of 2017, and coach Chris Boyd says he is back in the gym, if not, understandably, anywhere near peak condition.
"Broady has been around the base quite a bit the last week or so. It's been slowly, slowly, as it should be with those situations, but he is making some really good progress and is in a good, positive frame of mind at the moment," Boyd says.
"I don't think he's likely to play much Mitre 10 Cup this year, because twofold, he needs to get over his symptoms, and he hasn't done anything physically for 12 months, so he's got a bit to do to get into condition to play Super Rugby. He resembles a javelin at the moment and has lost a bit fair bit of condition.
"All long-term injuries are potentially problematic for sportspeople. I think the difference between concussion and an ACL... there is so much grey about when to return. Not only is the tunnel long but you don't know where the light is."
Broadhurst, along with the industrious Jeremy Thrush, formed a key cog in the 2015 Hurricanes as they stormed to the final. Both are now absent. Michael Fatialofa, in particular, has picked up much of the slack this season.
The rugby community will be hoping there is no concussion curse on former members of the Sacred Heart College First XV in Auckland. Prop Ben Afeaki was forced to retire from the game, while flanker Sean Polwart has not played since the start of 2015 and is believed to be still battling symptoms.