Koro is a Māori term describing an elderly male figure in one's tribe or immediate family. In a rugby context, it carries the same affectionate connotations and level of respect within a team.
Liam Messam, a man steeped in tikanga Māori, has been a rugby koro for some time but only recently, when he realised Toulon team-mates were born in the same year he finished Rotorua Boys' High School, did it truly hit home.
"It's pretty scary to think about," Messam, now 35, chuckles.
Messam has just completed his 17th professional season, donning his Rotorua Boys' socks, in a nod to his roots, in his final game for the Barbarians against England at Twickenham.
Before moving to France, Messam spent 14 years in New Zealand rugby; three seasons in Japan. In that time he won a Commonwealth Games gold medal with the sevens team; two Super Rugby titles with the Chiefs, for whom he played a record 179 matches, and the last of his 43 tests came during the 2015 World Cup success.
And yet in much the same vein as the evergreen Brad Thorn kept thundering into rucks until his 40s, Messam wants more. He will be back at Toulon next year, alongside Julian Savea and Nehe Milner-Skudder. Beyond that he could feature in America's Major League Rugby, as Toulon share a relationship with the New York club where French midfielder Mathieu Bastareaud will spend next season.
Wherever rugby takes him, Messam's sights are set on a special milestone that would befit his contributions to so many along the way.
"I want to try and crack 20 years of professional footy. It's a goal I've tried to set myself. There's a lot of sacrifices and hard work to get there but 20 years would be pretty awesome to achieve. The passion and the hunger are still there.
"As long as the mind and the heart are there and I can have a positive influence in any team I'm in I'll try and push hard for that 20 mark. That'll make me old."
To put such a goal in context, Thorn, English lock Simon Shaw, Irish halfback Peter Stringer and compatriot Donncha O'Callaghan are among the few to reach the two-decade mark in the pro game.
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"After I finished the Top14 season this year I thought 'bloody hell' but I'm still loving it, and still wanting to learn and get better. I've still got that drive and passion to keep going," Messam says.
"I still remember my first first-class match for Waikato against Italy like it was yesterday. I've put in the hard work. I knew I could make a good career out of rugby if I looked after myself. That's paid off and I'm proud to still be playing at a high level."
Rugby players are often measured by their list of personal accolades or team achievements. Talk to anyone who has coached Messam, though, and they will espouse his influence in shaping team culture and driving demanding standards.
He was certainly central in the Chiefs' rise under the triumphant Dave Rennie, Wayne Smith, Tom Coventry trio.
As age infiltrates ligaments and tendons, elite athletes often tweak training and recovery schedules to suit. Stretching, yoga and ice baths tend to take on greater importance yet Messam appears bigger than in New Zealand, and he remains determined to go pound-for-pound with emerging young bucks in every aspect.
"For some reason I've got no off button. Everything I do, especially off the field in the gym, is always go, go, go. Sometimes I have to pull myself back because age does catch up on you but we've got kids in our team who are 18 and 19 so you're trying to show them that the old fella has still got it. That's motivating in itself."
Messam does, however, admit the ridiculously long French and European season takes its toll. With 32 regular games - 40-plus weeks including preseason – France paints New Zealand's season as a dreamy island holiday.
"It's literally the grind up here. Back home we used to complain that Super Rugby was too long. I found it hard to adapt. I was used to building myself up and peaking when you want to play well. Up here you have to do it in blocks. When I first got here I was playing really well and then the energy levels dropped so you have to adapt and understand how to get your body right so you can perform week in, week out."
The other dynamic is, of course, demanding French owners. None more so than Toulon's Mourad Boudjellal, who publicly ridiculed Savea several times this season. Such outbursts are a far cry from home where NZ Rugby pays the players and, therefore, cares about holistic welfare.
"That's just the way they do things in France. It's all privately owned and when people are putting that sort of money in they want to have their say. This year at Toulon they're trying to change that mindset and have a more meaningful culture where you care about the jersey, the club and the people that you play for. It gives me another purpose to have an influence and give those wise words to get them to that mindset."
Messam will always be a passionate Mooloo man at heart but playing abroad has opened his eyes to a more worldly view of the global game.
"In New Zealand you kind of live in a bubble. You don't realise how big rugby is until you leave our shores. Up here they love rugby. In Toulon we've had one of their worst seasons but our fans turned up every week. They were there cheering and yelling. Your world opens to what rugby really means to people up here."
When he does eventually hang up the boots, having hopefully broken the 20-year barrier, "Koro" Messam has his next stage of life set with a partnership in the Inside Running Academy.
Based in Mount Maunganui, the academy has now been running 10 years with up to 150 players from 30 countries welcomed through education and training programmes every year.
"You don't realise how much people love New Zealand and the All Blacks. Having the academy gives people the opportunity to come to New Zealand and live our way. You live, eat, breathe rugby the whole time you are there.
"Most kids dream of playing in New Zealand. All my French mates ask about New Zealand – they think Hamilton is Lord of the Rings ... I have to tell them it's not actually like that.
"It's also something I can give back to the game. All I've known since I was 15-16 was rugby, so it's a good way for me to transition back into the game."
For now, though, Messam's boots remain firmly strapped.