Allan Alaalatoa glances at the tape wrapped around his left wrist and sees four letters written beneath a cross: Aiga.
"It means 'family' in Samoan," the ACT Brumbies captain said.
It's a reminder of his parents Vili and Emma, who sacrificed plenty to migrate from Samoa and lived off very little to provide a better life for Allan and his brother Michael. A nod to his wife Filo.
It's his why. His motivation leading into a Super Rugby AU-defining showdown with the Queensland Reds at Lang Park on Saturday night.
As if the 27-year-old tighthead prop needed any more in his first game back from a three-match suspension which left him shattered and feeling as though he'd let his mates down.
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"I was pretty gutted," Alaalatoa said.
"The feeling I had on the bench when I came off was just disappointment, mainly just around watching the boys working hard for each other.
"Some of the body language, you could tell the boys were cooked because we had 14 on the field and we ended up losing another one late in the second half.
"I took that to heart because I knew the reason why they were all working extra hard was because of my discipline and what happened."
To suggest Alaalatoa's send-off was a result of ill-discipline is somewhat harsh. A high shot on Melbourne Rebels prop Pone Fa'amausili was far from intentional.
There was no swinging arm. As Brumbies coach Dan McKellar put it, it was big man on big man, one dropped quite late and unfortunately wore a shoulder.
Alaalatoa plays tough, in such a manner that almost defies his soft nature off the park. So it hardly comes as a surprise that it took him "a few days to get over that".
"I had to take a new perspective of 'what's next? What can I do for the team to best prepare them for the games coming up?'," Alaalatoa said.
"I had a chat with Dan and some of the staff and made sure I came up with a four-week plan to understand not only how I can be better, but where I can contribute to the team and make sure they're best prepared for games going forward."
A Tuesday is traditionally the toughest day at Brumbies headquarters. So if Alaalatoa couldn't suit up on a Saturday, that was when he chose to replicate game intensity.
"If I could train at that level, it would prepare the team as best as I could," Alaalatoa said.
Preparing the club's front-row stocks during that time was hardly easy. Alaalatoa's first game out was a clash with the Reds.
It was the hardest one to watch. His replacement Tom Ross went down. So too did Scott Sio. James Slipper was already sidelined.
It was an alarming run that created opportunity. Archer Holz "wasn't getting a lot of time at training". Fred Kaihea had come through the ACT system but a debut seemed a year away at the earliest. Sefo Kautai was in Waikato.
All three were handed Brumbies caps. Holz rose from Sydney colts to Super Rugby in 10 months. Kaihea was promoted from the academy. Kaihea travelled across the ditch to reignite his career.
All while Alaalatoa watched on from sponsors boxes, trying to keep quiet when the captain within wanted to deliver a stern message.
Until now. A top of the table clash the Brumbies must win to keep their chance of hosting the grand final alive. For once, they are underdogs.
"I couldn't ask for a better game to come back," Alaalatoa said.
"The Reds at [Brisbane], they're undefeated. It's awesome. When I just say that, it already builds the excitement within me. The boys are hissing.
"They're a dominant pack, boys who pride themselves around set piece, scrum, maul, but then they also have a bit of spark around the field.
"Now I'm just looking forward to ripping in."
SUPER RUGBY AU ROUND EIGHT
Saturday: Queensland Reds v ACT Brumbies at Lang Park, 7.45pm. Broadcast: Live on Stan Sport and Gem.
ACT Brumbies team: 1. James Slipper, 2. Folau Fainga'a, 3. Allan Alaalatoa (c), 4. Darcy Swain, 5. Cadeyrn Neville, 6. Rob Valetini, 7. Tom Cusack, 8. Pete Samu, 9. Nic White, 10. Noah Lolesio, 11. Andy Muirhead, 12. Irae Simone, 13. Len Ikitau, 14. Tom Wright, 15. Tom Banks. Replacements: 16. Lachlan Lonergan, 17. Scott Sio, 18. Sefo Kautai, 19. Nick Frost, 20. James Tucker, 21. Ryan Lonergan, 22. Bayley Kuenzle, 23. Mack Hansen.
Queensland Reds team: 1. Feao Fotuaika, 2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 3. Taniela Tupou, 4. Ryan Smith, 5. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 6. Angus Scott-Young, 7. Fraser McReight, 8. Harry Wilson, 9. Tate McDermott, 10. James O'Connor (c), 11. Jock Campbell, 12. Hamish Stewart, 13. Hunter Paisami, 14. Jordan Petaia, 15. Bryce Hegarty. Replacements: 16. Alex Mafi, 17. Richie Asiata, 18. Zane Nonggorr, 19. Seru Uru, 20. Liam Wright, 21. Kalani Thomas, 22. Josh Flook, 23. Filipo Daugunu.
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