It is a long way from the tiny Tongan village of Faleloa to the white-hot cauldron of an All Black test.
Malakai Fekitoa took another significant step on that journey in being named in the All Blacks' wider training squad.
The Highlanders centre, who turned 22 last Saturday, has been one of the form players in the Super 15 this season.
The selection was still sinking in for the quietly spoken Tongan, who was deemed surplus to requirements at the Blues at the end of last season.
'I was pretty stoked. I got a text earlier on today. It was just unreal. I texted my family right away. They are just so happy," he said.
"It was not really a dream, to be honest. When I was in Tonga I did not know I was going to go anywhere. I was just stuck at school and I was learning to play.
"I wanted to make the World Cup for sevens for Tonga. I made the wider squad and that was great.
"Then I was lucky enough to get that scholarship to Wesley [College] and it all changed from there for me. Everything changed. I wanted to stay and play in New Zealand. I just wanted to make every team I could."
Fekitoa, who had a serious injury as a child that damaged his hip, was signed by the Auckland union straight out of school and named the player of the tournament at the national sevens in Queenstown when aged just 18.
He was picked by the Blues in 2013 but did not play a minute. With the signings of Benji Marshall and Ma'a Nonu this season, his face did not fit into the Blues' plans. The Highlanders pounced, and both team and player have profited from the connection.
Fekitoa, who qualified through residency for the All Blacks this season, said he was not fitting himself out with his black jersey yet.
"It is just the beginning, the start. It is a wake-up call to me - for me to work harder. But it is close now." Otago Daily Times