There was period last season when even someone as resolute as Tamworth skipper James Bracken needed to step back from the furnace and regroup.
It was about "four or five games" into the 2018 season, the No.7 said, when he decided to hand back the captaincy for "personal reasons" - "off-the-field" issues he did not want to divulge but had "all passed now".
Tamworth were winless at the time, in their debut season in the New England competition. The previous year, when the Magpies were in the Central North comp, Bracken captained the side to last place.
He said he relinquished the captaincy because "I didn't think I was playing my best footy". He wanted to concentrate on rectifying that, without having the added pressure of being skipper.
The decision paid off, he said, as his form improved. "And Burkey [Tamworth coach Peter Burke] said the same thing: he thought I was playing better."
Matt Blanch took over as captain. But when he missed the final game of the year, a 22-21 defeat of ladder-leaders Armidale, Bracken led the side.
And there he has remained, with Tamworth looking to return to the No.1 spot in a top-of-the-table clash against Robb College at Rugby Park on Saturday.
"Matt Blanch was out injured at the start of the season, so I put my hand up," he said.
After leading the side during dark times, Bracken is savouring the good times and his own "consistent" form.
"It's very pleasing," he said of steering a winning side. "As a club we've had a few rough years, probably the past five or six years, and then finding our feet this year has been very good.
"It's easier to get up to go to training on the Tuesday and Thursday when it's freezing cold ... and after the game is a lot more enjoyable."
Tamworth's only defeat this season was a 25-15 away loss to Armidale in their last start, on May 25. The last time Tamworth and Robb met was on May 12, when the Magpies won 24-21 in Armidale.
With fives games remaining before the finals, Bracken said: "What we're aiming to do is obviously finish on top of the table and secure a home semi-final."
To improve the side's chances of doing that, better discipline must be achieved, he added.
"Every game we've lost the penalty count significantly, and that's just poor discipline," he said.
For the first time since his scintillating debut on May 18, Harry Snook will line up for Tamworth on Saturday. Playing on the wing in a 42-17 defeat of Barbarians at Rugby Park, Snook scored four tries and booted seven goals for a club-record tally of 37 points.