Hayze Perham's rugby league dream has become a reality more quickly than he could have hoped for.
The 18-year-old Rotorua Boys' High School star signed for the Warriors last year but was not expecting to be training and playing with the team's stars Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Shaun Johnston so soon.
This week Perham has been involved in a full training camp at Papamoa and Mount Maunganui. He is set to make his debut at home next month when the Warriors play Melbourne Storm in a trial match at Rotorua International Stadium.
The former sevens, rugby and league schoolboy star, is taking it all in his rapid strides and not getting too far ahead. He knows it is early days, but he is loving every minute of rubbing shoulders with his childhood idols.
"It has been a huge surprise for me. There are a few boys left back home training, so I was really surprised and excited for Mooks (coach Stephen Kearney) to select me to come here," Perham said.
"All the boys are really welcoming. They don't treat it like they're the professional and I am the rookie. They just treat it like we are all one so it has been a real good buzz and fun. They know their stuff about footy, so I am just soaking up as much as I can from all of them."
Perham admits sharing a dressing room, and training, with some of the game's biggest stars has taken some getting used to.
"The first couple of weeks I was going up to them saying "hi Shaun Johnston, hi Roger Tuivasa-Sheck". I was dumbfounded really. I didn't know what to say to them but they are so welcoming, and it is a huge opportunity for me to not just be with them every day but learn off the best in the world."
Perham has been on a steep learning curve since he joined up with the Warriors and is loving every minute.
"Obviously it is a huge step up from the physical side from schoolboy footy to the professional lifestyle. That's been a real challenge for me, but I am slowly getting used to it. Also, the technical side is a huge difference. It is not just catch the ball and run anymore," he said.
"There are a lot of things going on on the field that most people don't see watching at a game or on TV, so it has been a real challenge but exciting as well getting to know the ropes."
Perham was renowned for his electrifying pace during his schoolboy years playing rugby and league.
He says he is blessed to have the speed needed to be an NRL outside back.
"The games have a lot of similarities of running and passing with the ball. I really am fortunate to be gifted on the speed side which is hard to teach. Skill-wise I am trying to up my game on the technical aspects."
The Melbourne Storm match in Rotorua next month is not far from Perham's mind.
Running out on the stadium with the Warriors in front of family and friends is something he can't wait to do.
"Just as it was a big surprise to come on the camp, it was an even bigger surprise to get named to have a go at home against Melbourne Storm. As much as it is an honour pulling on the Warriors jersey for the first time in a professional environment, it will be against the reigning Premiers in my hometown.
"It will be a huge joy for me to go out there and play a little footy."