When Storm prop Tui Kamikamica spent two weeks on his back in agony earlier this year he thought his season was over so his return to the field last round was a personal triumph.
The 26-year-old Fijian international trained so hard in the enforced two-month break that he sustained a back injury and before surgery in late July both he and the club thought his season was done with a three-month recovery on the cards.
So when Kamikamica spoke after the 36-20 win over the Cowboys on Sunday his smile was ear to ear.
"When you have a back surgery it is one of the most painful injuries. I was in bed for two weeks and couldn’t walk," he said.
"I thought 'that’s my season'. Then I went to see the surgeon and he said I’d be out for six weeks and it was just a bulging disc on my back.
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"I aimed for this round and I am so happy to be out there playing again because I thought my season was done."
Kamikamica is a tough forward but his bed-ridden fortnight was the toughest thing he had endured.
"It was funny. My brother Justin Olam was pretty good, bringing me breakfast, lunch and dinner. I couldn’t even walk to the team room,” he said.
"Those two weeks were so long. I was watching the boys train and I was in my room doing nothing.
“I am so thankful to our physio team. They have been encouraging me to stay positive when some people might have gone the wrong way, especially when you are in a room by yourself.
"They said to do all the little things right and here I am again playing some footy.”
Kamikamica, who had come off the bench in all his NRL games prior to this year, played the first two games of the season as a starting front-rower. It was due to his own dedication during the enforced two-month break that caused his back injury to flare up.
"Craig [Bellamy] always picks his team on if you have a good pre-season so I was putting my hand up to play in the starting thirteen," he said.
"Once we had the suspension of the season I kept training to keep the momentum because I didn’t want to lose my spot, but I trained too hard.
"That is why I got my back injury. Craig called me after I had done a speed session with one of the coaches, two weeks before we were meant to come back, and he said to take it easy because I could feel [the back] go when I took off."
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The support around him has been first class and Kamikamica has also shown his fighting qualities.
"This kind of thing is going to test what kind of person you are and I am not a quitter," he said.
“I just want to be there for my mates and also for my family back in Fiji.
"I have been calling them and they have been encouraging me. I wanted to make them proud as well. I have two sisters, my mum is a school teacher and my dad is a farmer and they are all back in Fiji.
"They were watching the game today back home.”
Kamikamica is primed to play finals football and he will be approaching the next six weeks with typical drive.
"Craig encourages us to work hard. If you want something in life you have to work hard for it so that has been my mentality," he said.
"The only thing I can control is how I train and I am going to focus on that."
The Storm have been hit with injuries in the forwards over the past two months and there rise to second spot has been a squad effort, which is why Bellamy is delighted to have Kamikamica back.
"Tui played our first two games and hasn’t played since and I thought he had a really good 30 minutes so hopefully he can add something to us," Bellamy said after the Cowboys win.
"In the first two rounds he was one of our better players. He has had a long time out and there is not long until the finals so we just need to work out where he is at."