Chiefs prop Atu Moli couldn't wait for the 2018 Super Rugby season to start.
After a stellar 2017, he had earned a place on the All Blacks' end of year tour and even won his first selection when he made his international debut against a French XV.
But then disaster struck in the opening round of last season in a February 24 match against the Crusaders.
The 23-year-old took a knock to his left quad and while it didn't appear to be a serious issue during the game (Moli completed the match), it only took two days for things to turn much worse.
"It was kind of like a Charlie that everyone gets," Moli told 1 NEWS.
"Two days after the game, it started to flair up so I was taken in to A&E and they had to cut it open."
Moli had picked up a haematoma, an abnormal collection of blood outside a blood vessel which happens after a significant impact. He was also suffering from compartment syndrome - a condition caused when pressure within muscles builds to dangerous and painful levels.
After his initial two-week stint in hospital where doctors routinely cut his leg open to release pressure on the muscle, Moli was left with an open scar for three months and unable to train or play.
"It was quite tough, that was my first long-term injury," he said.
"A lot of learnings came out of it and a lot of support. I had a few dark moments but there was always family and friends beside me."
Initial reports said Moli could possibly have his leg amputated due to the injury but he said that didn't concern him too much.
"I wouldn't go that far. When the surgeon was talking to me, he said that could be the worst case scenario."
Moli hoped to be back playing towards the end of the Mitre 10 Cup last year but recovery was slower than expected, meaning his first real hit-out was last week in the Chiefs' trial game against the Blues.
Moli enjoyed his time so much he asked coach Colin Cooper for extra minutes - which he got.
The playing time won't come as easy though when the season starts. Breakout front-rower Karl Tu'inukuafe's departure to the Blues has left the No.1 jersey open but the Chiefs have plenty of props still in their stocks.