Hika Elliot is one man who can empathise with the life-changing decision made by Ben Afeaki to quit rugby.
Former front row partners in the Chiefs' scrum and close friends off the field, Elliot also found himself in Afeaki's agonising position as recently as last year.
And, as he prepares to tackle the Crusaders on Friday night, taking another successful step in a remarkable comeback season, Elliot knows how different it all could have been.
Just as Afeaki was forced to walk away from rugby last week because of ongoing concerns over a head knock suffered during the last campaign, Elliot came close to pulling the pin on his own playing days.
Fortunate to escape paralysis and facing the possibility of long-term health issues after the neck injury he suffered in 2013, Elliot almost walked away from the game he loved.
But the hooker fought his way back and, after sitting out last season, he is again an integral member of the Chiefs' pack
"After I spoke to [Afeaki] I sat at home thinking, 'Man, that could have been me'," Elliot said. "I was pretty close to doing the same thing myself.
"Do I feel more fortunate? I do. At the end of the day, playing footy is a passion of mine since being a young fella, and being able to pull on this jersey every week is an experience in itself."
It is an experience Afeaki will no longer be able to enjoy and, while the prop's decision to retire was both brave and straightforward, Elliot truly felt for his former teammate.
"He's been a big part of this Chiefs team for a long time now and he's been a big part of my life both on and off the field," Elliot said. "I call him a close friend so it was quite an emotional time when he announced his retirement.
"But as a footy player who's also pondered retirement and got pretty close to it last year, I really feel for him - I think on another level compared to other people hearing the news.
"He's got his health to think about and, at the end of the day, rugby's only here for a little bit. You've got to live life for the rest of your life. As much emotion as there was involved, that was his call and I think it was good for his health."
Elliot's own health has never been in question this year, missing only one game through suspension. He has anchored a Chiefs scrum that has, one hiccup in South Africa aside, provided a solid platform, while he has also steadied a lineout that was a weakness the previous season.
"I'm pretty happy with the way I've been tracking," he said. "The comeback from injury has been an overwhelming success.
"For the majority of this campaign I think we've had a pretty dominant set piece. But we need to keep working on it, really focusing on our set piece, because it's going to be tough this week.
"We know the Crusaders are going to try and attack us at the source and try and upset our set piece. So we've got a big job ahead of us."