Chiefs winger Sean Wainui is embracing fatherhood, having welcomed his first son into the world last week. He says it's one of the happiest moments in his life.
Wainui says the past week has been a life-changing one. "Being a pāpā, it's probably the best thing I've ever experienced in my life so far. Just seeing him every day, it's tried to make me be a better person, a better man."
With the joy of fatherhood comes the realisation that it's back to work for Wainui. He and his Chiefs team leave this week for Fiji where they will take on the Crusaders on Saturday night, meaning he has to leave his son at home for the next few days.
Wainui says it's "buzzy" when he thinks back over the past week, since Kawariki Te Raiona's homebirth. "Last week, I caught him," he says, "and I'm going to be catching some rugby balls [this week]."
He's not looking forward to leaving his son behind but says modern technology will help, "It's going to be stink, but that's the beauty of FaceTime and social media these days, being able to connect on FaceTime, but I'm going to miss him hard," he says.
Wainui says that while some people have asked him if the name Kawariki was inspired by Te Matatini champions Ngā Tūmanako's leader Kawariki Morgan, the inspiration instead comes from the Kawariki tree, the fruit of which was fed to young children in the past to give strength.
Te Kawariki, Wainui says, is also the name of the group that created the Tino Rangatiratanga flag. "So, bit of a hearty name. Then his middle name, Te Raiona, The Lion. I love my Rastafarian, and I love lions and stuff, so real hearty name. He's a little soldier already!"
The Chiefs 19-13 victory against the Reds on the weekend has kept their slim hopes of reaching the Super Rugby playoffs alive. A victory against the champion Crusaders this week will keep that going. However, they are well and truly in must-win territory and are relying on other results to fall in their favour.
Wainui says the equation for them is simple, "Pretty much leave nothing out there, eh. We've got to give everything we got, and I think we're leading up to that. And then give us a chance to get in that top 8, and then anything can happen."
Whatever does happen, Wainui is looking forward to getting back to the apple of his eye and spending time with his fiancee Paige, and their little lion soldier.