He may have been ignored by headline writers for much of his career, however his input, attitude and ability was never underestimated by those he played alongside, with Jayson Bukuya announcing his immediate retirement from the Sharks and from the NRL.
An integral member of the successful Sharks 2016 side, playing 25 games during that memorable Grand Final winning season, the quietly-spoken Bukuya informed teammates of his decision earlier this month before finalising and confirming his departure from the game.
A one-time captain of Fiji, representing the island nation in 11 Tests and in two World Cups, Bukuya played 186 matches in the top grade during 13 years in the NRL, including 168 games at the Sharks.
Playing his role to a high standard but away from the spotlight and fanfare, Bukuya quietly drifts off into the sunset, or more specifically into a rural location and the next phase of his life with wife Ronnie and his three children Peni, Bella and Lilly.
The 31-year-old Bukuya remembers when it all began, but in typical fashion was reluctant to overstate his contribution and offered just a few words in relation to a retirement which to many may have seemed premature.
“I came down to Cronulla in 2006, Theo Burgess brought me down from Brisbane and I first played SG Ball for the Sharks,” Bukuya recalled.
Two years later he was making his NRL debut.
“I do remember my first NRL game, it was against the Bulldogs, round 11 and I played on the wing,” he said.
His days out on the flank were certainly brief, Bukuya finding a home in the forward pack, often as a lock or second rower and later in his career as an impact player used in a variety of roles off the interchange bench.
As for the curtain finally coming down, a series of niggling injuries limited his top grade appearances in the later part of 2019, also hampering his attempts to return to the NRL side pre the Coronavirus shutdown early in 2020, prompting Bukuya to make the call to hang up the boots.
“It was just time,” Bukuya's simple explanation.
Current Sharks coach John Morris, who also played alongside Bukuya at the Cronulla Club, praised his former teammate for his contribution over a long and distinguished career.
“We wish Jayson all the best and congratulate him on a great career,” Morris said. “He will always be treasured at the Club for not only being a part of the 2016 Premiership winning team but also for the great person he was.
“He was an outstanding clubman who always gave his best both on and off the field.”
Playing 16 top grade games last year, Bukuya then found himself returning from injury in the Canterbury Cup with the Sharks partner club the Newtown Jets.
With his experience a major plus in a young and enthusiastic Jets side, Bukuya would go on to play a leading role in their run to dual titles, helping steer the Newtown team to Canterbury Cup and National Championship victories.