Leaving Napier Boys' High School for King's College in Auckland was a massive call for Zarn Sullivan.
With the fullback/first five now in his second Super Rugby preseason with the Blues, this time as a core squad member, he can confidently say it was the right one.
Sullivan said choosing to follow in his older brother (Chiefs centre) Bailyn's footsteps and leave his family behind to go to King's was a big moment for him.
The 20-year-old added that his career might have looked very different had he stuck around in Hurricanes territory at Napier Boys'.
"But hey look, it's no regrets really, I'm at home up here in Auckland," Sullivan said after five years in the City of Sails, although he was quick to acknowledge that Hawke's Bay would always be where his heart is.
He said it has been tough not being able to come back to the Bay over the Blues' busy preseason, which has been good fun so far even though the workload takes a toll on the body.
Sullivan isn't a stranger to the grind, having joined up with the wider training squad on his Interim Training Contract for last year's preseason.
That deal also saw him spend a couple of weeks with the core group during the 2020 Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign, joining a couple of decent first fives on the roster by the names of Dan Carter and Beauden Barrett.
"The moment I saw both of them, I was just speechless really," Sullivan said.
"Just rubbing shoulders with them, sharing space with them, it was just mindblowing."
Sullivan said he was starstruck all over again when he was selected in the 2021 Blues squad last December after an awesome debut Mitre 10 Cup campaign with Auckland:
"Dream come true really, didn't have many words to say to the family other than I've been selected to go join the Blues for a year."
That dream became a reality when he reported to preseason with the other players on January 7, and Sullivan said he has been approaching it slightly differently.
"Last year I was just there to learn and stuff, this year you're putting your hand up trying to fight for a spot with others," he said.
Head coach Leon MacDonald and his staff see Sullivan mainly as a fullback that can play first five for this season, the same role he starred in for Auckland as they made the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership final.
He said the main advice they gave him was to keep being himself:
"They've obviously chosen me for being me, so just to be me in this environment."