Every young Kiwi rugby player dreams of getting a professional contract and wearing the All Black jersey. Scott Gregory is on his way to accomplishing both.
The 18-year-old is fresh out of Whangarei Boys' High School and into the Northland Mitre 10 Cup side after signing a three-year deal with the province.
Gregory has been preparing for this since he was a youngster.
"I started playing when I was 5 for Hikurangi, used to get out there at the Hikurangi Rugby Club on those cold mornings and I loved it," he said.
"I was really fast when I was a youngster and found my feet quite quickly. Managed to cross over for a few tries as well so I always loved it."
"It was always a dream growing up to pull on the black jersey and play for the All Blacks."
Gregory has one sibling, 16-year-old brother Reuben, and said while they both are into their sport, he was the more competitive one.
"Reuben is into his hockey (he plays centre midfield) and has his First XI trials coming up. Out of the two I was definitely the more competitive, but he also wants to do really well."
While Gregory plays his rugby in the midfield, his biggest idol growing up was a tough-as-nails forward.
"The likes of Brad Thorn and Jonah Lomu were who I looked up to," he said.
"I loved Thorn in particular because he was such a professional and a big menace on the park and is probably one of the most successful rugby and league players that played so that was always something to aim for."
The midfielder impressed during his time at WBHS, captaining the First XV and going on to represent the New Zealand Secondary Schools Barbarians and the Northland Sevens teams.
Gregory impressed so much at the Bayleys National Sevens that he was invited to train with the New Zealand Sevens squad.
He said he had gained a lot from all of these experiences.
"Playing in the North Harbour 1A competition for WBHS was a huge help. We were pretty fortunate to be in there and we had some great coaches which helped a lot with my game," he said.
"It was great to be involved in the NZ Sevens training squad and I learnt a lot being around those guys."
Northland assistant coach Dale McLeod said the province had their eye on Gregory for a while.
"Players being signed straight out of school is the norm now. For us being a small union it is important we get this right around who we select. Scott ticked all the boxes," he said.
"I had got to know Scott well during the 2016 season while he was at Whangarei Boys' and we had weekly sessions together."
"In that time Scott proved to me that he had what it took to play at the highest level. It was what he did off the field that impressed me the most.
"Scott works very hard on his skills and is always wanting to learn. His background in athletics has really set him up well re his performance focus, performance readiness and performance review.
"I see Scott as a real player of the future."
Gregory excelled in athletics, grabbing silver medals in discuss and shotput at the New Zealand Secondary Schools Track and Field Championships, but has now singled his focus on rugby.
He is currently recovering from a back injury which curtailed his training with the NZ Sevens squad, suffering a stress fracture in his back.
"I've fractured my back down in my fifth lumbar. A stress fracture is a niggly thing and they take time and it did happen over time, not a contact injury," Gregory said.
"It is quite annoying though."
Despite the setback, Gregory has big aims for the 2016 season which include a tilt at another contract and is excited to be playing for his home province.
"I'd love to push towards a Super Rugby contract, a wider training squad one. I know I'm quite young but that is definitely the goal. I want to come into the season firing and ready to go," he said.
"I'm pretty excited for the opportunity and it is really awesome to be able to stay here with my family and play for my home team."