OPINION: A week in the life of an NPC player may seem simple to some - train and play.
What isn't widely known is the amount of preparation that goes into planning for each game.
Technology plays a huge part in most people's lives these days and this is no different in the rugby environment.
Each week our previous game is broken down by a computer program and coded in a way that allows us to watch every part of the game through video clips.
Every tackle, pass, run, kick and cleanout of a ruck is noted and can be viewed separately.
Those video clips are also compiled into a table of statistics that can be viewed by every team at any time.
In simple terms, you cannot hide on the field these days.
The first two days after a game are spent reviewing the game we just played.
All players are expected to watch the game on the computer, looking at what they did well, and not so well, in the game.
We are also expected to review not only our own performance, but also team performance, looking at how we can get better and what is working well.
We then come together and go through the footage as a team.
The coaches will show clips from the game.
They could show a good period of play, a defensive lapse, or a lineout or scrum move.
Once the review is complete, we turn our attention to our next opponents.
You can spend hours scrolling through footage of your opposition, getting down to every fine detail of how they defend, how they attack, and how individuals within their team play the game.
Goof (coach David Henderson) can usually be found at Rugby Park during most hours of the day when the team is not training, poring through piles of video footage, preparing clips that show and highlight potential weaknesses in our next opposition.
Some of the staff at Rugby Park have also seen a bed being moved in upstairs, which would help explain the rumour that he had moved in permanently.
It is easy to point out weaknesses within a team; the hard part is being able to come up with and then execute the right strategy or move to expose that frailty.
On top of that, a large chunk of this year's Stags squad are either still studying or working part-time during the season.
Guys such as Michael Fatialofa and Craig Smith are examples of the semi-professional nature of the NPC these days. When there is no training or team activity, you can find Fatialofa stacking bottles at and making deliveries from Centrepoint Liquorland in Invercargill.
For players not contracted to a Super Rugby franchise, an emphasis has been put on either finding work or study outside of the game.
Players who play club rugby and NPC do not earn enough to be classed as fulltime rugby players, so the need for a job or degree on the side is now more important than ever.
On a final note, the Stags squad and management would like to congratulate loose forward Naulia "Tu" Dawai on the arrival of his second daughter, born in Fiji at the start of the week. Let's hope we see her lacing the boots up for the Southland women's sevens team in a few years.
- © Fairfax NZ News