Highlanders captain Andrew Hore describes the off-the-ball hit on Welsh lock Bradley Davies which earned him a five-week suspension as a blight on his career.
The All Black hooker was remorseful at the time of the incident, telling he had let down the team and his country with a deliberate swinging arm which knocked out Davies, and he regrets it now.
The IRB judiciary found Hore guilty, but deducted three weeks from a maximum two-month ban because of his contrition, a blameless 74-test career and the way he had apologised to Davies after the incident.
Although he had to sit out the season-ending test loss to the English, the real punishment came two weeks ago when Hore had to miss the Highlanders' opening loss to the Chiefs.
"It's one of those things that's pretty frustrating. It's a blight on a career - like I said at the time, I like to play hard but fair. It's one of those tough things. Someone told me at the time that I was suspended that it would get harder when the time came that I was actually missing games."
The hangover from the end-of-year tour, coupled with the Highlanders having the bye in the third round, has meant Hore has had to wait for his opportunity in his second season with the franchise.
Hore was named captain after a reshuffle following his All Black team-mate Tony Woodcock's arrival in Dunedin, and former skipper Jamie Mackintosh's subsequent demotion. Not having him has caused an unwanted distraction before tomorrow's game against the Cheetahs at Invercargill's Rugby Park.
Colin Slade will take his first steps back into rugby from the Highlanders' bench.
Slade has been named in the reserves for the first time since badly breaking his left leg in an awkward tackle playing against the Brumbies in Canberra a year ago. That came after a horror injury run that included two broken jaws and the groin tear which ended his World Cup campaign.
Brad Thorn starts his first Super Rugby game as a Highlander after a calf strain kept him out of the Chiefs game, while Jake Paringatai starts at No 8 in place of the injured Nasi Manu.
Lock Josh Bekhuis and flanker John Hardie will start in their home town, with Stags team-mate Tim Boys on the bench.
The Cheetahs have made just one change to the squad which was beaten 45-3 by the Chiefs in Hamilton. Flanker Heinrich Brussow comes on to the bench, replacing Boom Prinsloo.
"It's obviously frustrating trying to captain a side when you're not allowed to play. I'm pretty excited about getting down to Invercargill and trying to get a bit of form out on the paddock," Hore said.
"Obviously you can still do all the trainings and stuff, the live scrummaging and helping the hookers out, but there's nothing like getting out there and being amongst it, is there."
It hasn't all been negative, however.
Hore was able to host the Highlanders in his native Central Otago during the bye week.
Team members were billeted with families in Ranfurly and Maniototo and caught the school bus to training.
"Having the bye week in the second week is a bit different and obviously a bit frustrating when you've lost your first game and you can't get out there the next week and right a few wrongs," Hore said.
"We worked pretty hard in 35 degree heat; it was something different and we trained pretty well and the boys bought into it pretty well."
As far as auditions for a post-rugby job on the Hore family farm went, there were mixed reviews, Hore said.
"Everyone had a crack at it. I don't think any of us are going to make much money shearing," he said.
"It's a great team and they were all keen to get amongst it.
"They made some good friends as well."
Meanwhile, poor pre-game sales are concerning Highlanders officials.
Only about 3000 tickets have been sold for tomorrow's game.
Highlanders: Ben Smith, Kade Poki, Phil Burleigh, Ma'a Nonu, Hosea Gear, Lima Sopoaga, Aaron Smith, Jake Paringatai, John Hardie, Joe Wheeler, Josh Bekhuis, Brad Thorn, Ma'afu Fia, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Brayden Mitchell, Chris King, Jarrad Hoeata, Tim Boys, Fumiaki Tanaka, Colin Slade, Shaun Treeby.
Cheetahs: Hennie Daniller, Willie Le Roux, Johan Sadie, Robert Ebersohn, Raymond Rhule, Johan Goosen, Sarel Pretorious, Phillip van der Walt, Lappies Labuschagne, Frans Viljoen, Francois Uys, Lodewyk De Jager, Lourens Adriaanse, Adriaan Strauss (captain), Trevor Nyakane. Reserves: Ryno Barnes, Coenie Oosthuisen, Ligtoring Landman, Heinrich Brussow, Piet van Zyl, Riaan Smit, Ryno Benjamin.