Aidan Ross' joy to be back playing Super Rugby was clear for all to see as the Chiefs prop bounded onto the turf last Friday night in Hamilton.
It was a stark contrast to his sudden, gut-wrenching exit from last year's campaign. It was a case of friendly fire that ended Ross' year prematurely.
The 23-year-old was stretchered off the turf at Westpac Stadium in last year's round nine match against the Hurricanes after fellow Chiefs prop Angus Ta'avao was knocked off balance and landed on Ross' right leg.
Healthy and ready to go fo the 2019 campaign, Ross was elevated from the reserves to start this season's opener against the Highlanders when Atu Moli was ruled out with an elbow injury, and the good vibes came flowing back.
"I definitely missed that feeling,' he says with a beaming smile.
"Warming up, chucking the jersey on before you go to run out, that wee huddle before kick-off, just all those little moments that I got a taste of last year but didn't get to see it through, then obviously ripping into the game.
"It was pretty fun."
The broken ankle was the first major injury that Ross had sustained during his rugby career.
Like many players dealing with an injury of that severity for the first time, it provided him with a reality check.
"There's more to life than just rugby," he says with a knowing nod.
"It hits you pretty soon that you're not going to be playing for the rest of your life; you're going to have to go to a day job afterward so it was good to see what's out there"
After a six month recovery, Ross was primed to get back into full training; however the start of the Chiefs pre-Christmas sessions were still a month away.
"I was ready to comeback but there was no rugby in November.
"Luckily [Japanese club side] Kobe and the Chiefs have got a good relationship.
"[Their coach] Dave Dillon used to work here and coached me in Chiefs development, so he was able to bring me over and get me up to scratch."
Dillon says Ross impressed a lot of people during his four week stint with the club.
"He added real value to our programme.
"He threw himself into the culture, worked hard and got massive respect out of that."
After an industrious first up effort against the Highlanders, Aidan Ross is keen to get into the grind of week in week out rugby again for his franchise and province.
"If all goes well there's plenty of rugby ahead for me this year with two teams I love.
"I just want to get as much game time in this Chiefs jersey while Bay of Plenty didn't go too well last season and there's a little bit of fire set in there, so once Super Rugby is over I can't wait to rip into the Bay season."
Ross will against start for the Chiefs this Saturday when they take on the Brumbies in Canberra in what will be captain Brodie Retallick's 100th match for the club.
Chiefs: Shaun Stevenson, Ataata Moeakiola, Tumua Manu, Anton Lienert-Brown, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Damian McKenzie, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Tyler Ardron, Lachlan Boshier, Mitchell Brown, Michael Allardice, Brodie Retallick, Nepo Laulala, Nathan Harris, Aidan Ross. Reserves: Samisoni Taukie'aho, Tevita Mafileo, Sosefo Kautai, Taleni Seu, Mitchell Karpik, Jonathan Tuamateine, Orbyn Leger, Bailyn Sullivan.
NIGEL YALDEN IS RUGBY EDITOR FOR NEWSTALK ZB AND RADIO SPORT