Canadian captain Pat Riordan knows what it's like to be stuck in hospital as a kid.
The 32-year-old with Canada's Rugby World Cup squad had shoulder and hip surgery in his early teens, so had some sense how the young children at Hawkes Bay Regional Hospital felt, when members of the squad visited on Friday.
Riordan, James Pritchard, Jebb Sinclair, Hubert Buydens and Adam Kleeberger spent a couple of hours at the hospital on Friday afternoon, visiting patients in the children's ward.
The captain spent most of the visit painting with young patient Cruise Munro in the ward.
"I think it's pretty important, rewarding stuff," Riordan said. "When the one kid finally cracked a smile, that was pretty good."
As the team tries to balance time between on field and off field action, Riordan said the visit provided them with perspective.
"It puts a lot of things into perspective and it's fun to see how kids, even when they're sick, can put a smile on their face. It's a good reminder, if a two-year-old with a broken leg can smile, we can't take a loss or an injury too hard."
Riordan's wife Marley is currently pregnant, so visiting the children's hospital also had added poignancy for the expectant parent.
"Parents are pretty resilient and amazing in the fact they can carry through with always being worried," Riordan said. "Parents are always worried about their kids. When you're a kid, you don't realize the sacrifices your parents make."
Riordan could not understate how important it was for the team to involve itself in every community it visits, whether home or abroad.
"It's hugely important," he said. "It's good for the guys to realize there is life outside of rugby. It's really important for the kids as well. The people of New Zealand have been so hospitable. It's a cliche to say it's nice to give back, it's more that it's nice to contribute to the great work that's already being done."
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