With Tom Court being a centurion, he has seen a battle or two in his years of service, the last six of which have been fought in the colours of Ulster.
As a prop forward, he has the scars to prove it, too.
And now, having just made his 100th appearance for the province, he is preparing for another scrap, this one with Callum Black and any other loose-head with designs on the number one shirt.
Court has fought long and hard for occupancy, overcoming all opposition and numerous setbacks in the process.
When he arrived from Queensland Reds in the summer of 2006, the big Irish-qualified Australian was a tight-head. When he realised that the number three jersey wasn’t available, he adapted, instead learning the art of loose-head play and establishing himself there instead.
By virtue of his rarely-found ability to play either side of the hooker and cover both positions he became an important Ireland squad member, with 29 international caps confirming his status.
On Friday night, minutes after completing his Ulster ‘ton’, Court was typically level-headed, focused and modest about himself and his career.
“It has been a hard old road but it has paid off,” said the prop who replaced Black for the final quarter of the match against Glasgow.
“I got on tonight so I was able to contribute to the win. That’s a good start to the season so now it’s just a matter of working on myself, contributing to the team and seeing where that takes us.”
As is his wont, he down-played his latest achievement in having racked up 100 Ulster appearances. He did, however, admit to having been moved by the rousing reception the 8,108-strong Ravenhill crowd gave him when he entered the fray for his first outing since suffering a serious thumb injury in the May 19 Heineken Cup final defeat by Leinster at Twickenham.
“Sometimes when there’s a lot of world-class players like Tommy (Bowe) and Stevie (Ferris) and Rory (Best) and Ruan (Pienaar) I guess you maybe forget that people still realise you’re out there doing the job,” he said.
“For me it’s just a matter of continuing to try to improve by working on myself.”
Sportingly highlighting the intense pressure now coming from his latest rival, Court continued: “That’s what I have to do because Callum has had a brilliant close season this year. He has gone really well in taking his chance.
“Now it’s up to me to throw it back at him, show what I can do and hopefully take my spot back.”
Asked if this is the strongest Ulster squad since he enlisted, his enthusiasm on that count was obvious. He made no attempt to mask his delight and he paid tribute to those who have built so promising a panel.
“Depth-wise and in terms of consistency, it is the best in my time here,” he said. “David (Humphreys) and Mark (Anscombe) have done a great job building it, not only through the recruitment but also by giving the young guys the confidence and courage to back themselves, play and throw it around a bit.”
Personally, he is happy to be getting back in the groove following his time out. As with most professional sportsmen and women, breaks from the day-in, day-out routine of keeping themselves in shape, mentally as well as physically, is altogether alien.
“It has been a long old few weeks dealing with family stuff and things,” is his description of that time out. “It’s good just to finish that all off, put it behind us, get back, get playing again and into a bit of a routine with the boys.”
Fitness — in terms of his legs and lungs being ready — is not an issue. At this point what he needs is game-time.
“In terms of pre-season stuff, fitness-wise I’ve probably done as much as I could do before I need to starting playing games,” he explained. “For props — when it comes to scrum fitness and rucking and mauling — you just can’t replicate that by playing ‘touch’ or running shuttles. You really need to be playing.
“Usually, if I can get a good run of games leading into November then I’m beginning to hit my straps by the start of the Autumn Internationals,” he said.
If Callum Black wants that Ulster shirt he had better be ready for a very hard fight.