After waiting more than half the season to get a shot in the starting side at the New Zealand Warriors, Jazz Tevaga is determined not to let an ongoing ankle injury sideline him for part of the club's run home.
Tevaga was out of action for three weeks after suffering a high ankle sprain at the end of May, and since returning in round 14 he has been forced from the field twice due to a flare-up of the same injury.
While rest is the only cure for it at this stage, Tevaga said after being named to start at lock for the third week in a row this Saturday against the Brisbane Broncos, it's not an option he's willing to consider.
"I'm managing it well and hopefully I can pump out some big minutes this week," Tevaga told NRL.com.
"I should be alright this weekend, hopefully it doesn't get twisted awkwardly again.
"It just needs time and that's the tough thing, if I want it to heal I probably shouldn't be playing for a couple of weeks, maybe even four weeks.
"These past two weeks I have re-aggravated it a bit… but that's footy, it's one of those things where I have to get through it and tough it out."
Broncos v Warriors - Round 17
After playing off the interchange in his first 11 Telstra Premiership games this year, Tevaga became the Warriors' first-choice lock following a positional reshuffle triggered by an injury to Tohu Harris.
The 23-year-old has topped the Warriors' tackle count in each of the last two games and averaged 149 metres gained through that same period, with coach Stephen Kearney enjoying the different style he's bringing to the pack.
"He does add a different dynamic; he's not your typical middle forward," Kearney said.
"His game is different to what you would normally get in the middle of the field… he probably gives away 10-15 [kilograms] straight away.
"But he gives you good leg speed and is a tough rooster who works really hard in defence."
Tevaga said retired Warriors great Simon Mannering, who had a mortgage on the No.13 jersey towards the end of his career, has been a valuable source of advice as he makes the adjustment from interchange player to starter.
"I call Juju [Mannering] a good mate of mine, I was talking to him the other day and I asked him if there was anything I could work on," Tevaga said.
"He was just telling me to keep working my arse off, keep bringing the energy.
"The thing I take from Juju was how he prepared, because you don't realise how much starting and playing big minutes takes it out of you.
"I am pretty happy with the numbers I have been putting up since starting. It's been a bit difficult to adjust to starting, but I think I am finding my feet and I definitely feel good."
Meanwhile Kearney provided an update on luckless hooker Nathaniel Roache, confirming he is scheduled to have surgery next week to repair the ACL injury he suffered in the round 15 loss to the Penrith Panthers.
The latest setback comes after Roache tore his Achilles in 2017 and sat out the entire 2018 season following back surgery.
"He will get surgery in a week or so. The idea is to let [the swelling] all settle down, that's the way they do the ACL now," Kearney said.
"[He's coping] really well, we have got a welfare department that have done a really good job of rallying around him… he's got a great attitude and mindset."