Playing against an old team-mate in Saturday's rugby league final in Christchurch will add to the occasion for Chee Turuwhenua.
A second rower, Turuwhenua will don the colours of the Southland Rams for their clash with Canterbury Development in the South Island provincial final.
He will renew acquaintances with Canterbury prop Joseph Pombo, who has represented Papua New Guineas.
"We played for Halswell in 2005-06, probably played three years together," said Turuwhenua, who earlier spent three or four years in the Aranui High School league team.
During his time in Canterbury, Turuwhenua took to the field with men who went on to become well known in league or rugby, including All Black Ben Franks, Kane Ferris, who was in the Junior Kiwis in 2002, and former Kiwi and Warriors team member Jerome Ropati.
"I play for the enjoyment," said Turuwhenua, who has been playing league for 18 years.
He and his partner, Alana Lockhorst, moved to Invercargill two years ago.
The 30-year-old has played for Cooks in Southland club league competition for the past two seasons.
Cooks beat He Tauaa in the final last year.
The two teams squared off again in the final last month, with the well-drilled He Tauaa winning.
"I played rugby for Woodlands [this year] for extra fitness," Turuwhenua said.
Southland Rams manager Cheryl Low said Turuwhenua was committed to the team and attending training sessions.
"He's got a lot of league experience," she said.
Turuwhenua was a valuable vice-captain for the Rams, coach Greg Dawson said.
"He's got great leadership skills, a natural leader on the field."
Turuwhenua will have little to eat on Saturday leading into the final.
"I'll have a filled roll and a banana or two ... a bit of cereal in the morning."
Next month, Turuwhenua will help build a house on Stewart Island for his partner's family.
- © Fairfax NZ News