The trials and tribulations of Jayson Bukuya
You could forgive Sharks veteran Jayson Bukuya for feeling blessed of late.
Bukuya has been one of the Sharks' unsung heroes in their current nine-game winning streak, in one of the more positive periods of form he's had in his eight years in the Shire.
Bukuya made his debut for Cronulla before any other current Sharks player apart from skipper Paul Gallen, featuring in two games in 2008.
What followed for the then 19-year-old was two years of absolute misery.
Bukuya's season ended in 2009 after suffering a syndesmosis injury and a broken fibula in one fell swoop. Surgery on both his shoulders soon after cruelly rubbed him out of the 2010 season as well.
Six seasons later, Bukuya says the winning ways of the Sharks of late has made the toughest period of his career worth it.
"I had to hang in there because there were plenty of times I wanted to throw it in," Bukuya said.
"By just pushing through those tough times to where I am now has made it all worth it.
"Now all I want to do is just keep trying to play regular footy and play well for the Sharks.
"Those two years I missed makes me feel like I haven't been here the [second] longest but it's something to look back on proudly I guess."
Bukuya's season spent at the Warriors in 2014, he believes, helped him gain a greater appreciation for the Sharks.
"It was massive to come back. I was so thankful the Sharks took me back in," Bukuya said.
"The year I went away from the Sharks made me appreciate the club a lot more and what I had here because I really enjoyed my time here initially and my family enjoy it too.
"There were plenty of learning curves [at the Warriors] but I don't want to go back there either unless I'm playing them."
Bukuya spoke with pride of the part he's played in helping the club reach the top rung of the NRL Telstra Premiership ladder ahead of the Sharks' anticipated clash with reigning premiers North Queensland on Monday night.
"I've never had this good a run I don't think. It's an awesome feeling to be a part of and just want it to keep going," Bukuya said.
"It's exciting to have the shoe on the other foot and have teams try to come at us and knock us off. I think we're up for the challenge too.
"All the teams below us want to try and knock us off so we aren't expecting any easy games which the boys I think are ready for."