There aren't many players in the mould of Scott Gregory whose versatility in 15s rugby is priceless and pace in the abbreviated code a sight to behold.
The 19-year-old Northland rep is one of five players from throughout New Zealand to sign one-year contracts to play for the All Blacks 7s in next year's World Rugby Sevens series, starting with the Dubai tournament next month.
Long term, his sights are firmly on the 2020 Olympics in Japan with an explosive mix of 7s and 15s thrown in between, and that's a lot of rugby and travelling to be had.
He's rightly excited while casting his eye over next year's rugby calendar — the excitement of being part of Hikurangi rugby's 125th anniversary, to getting some club rugby under his belt, before linking up with the Taniwha boys in time for the Mitre 10 Cup.
Sevens rugby will also take him to a wide variety of places around the globe, including to the mecca of 7s in Hong Kong, over the next six months and he can't wait.
But first, the focus is on some gruelling 7s training in Tauranga straight after competing in the Oceania Sevens Tournament in rain-swept Suva last weekend where New Zealand lost to Fiji in the final.
''The tournament was really awesome. I am really happy with the experience and things. It's definitely quite tough at that level but what you wanna do is try and go the next rung up the ladder,'' Gregory said yesterday.
"Hopefully I've put my foot in the door and things will go well with the World Series and I can get a taste of that as well as play against some other good teams. I am really happy with it."
ABs Sevens coach Clark Laidlaw approached Gregory and offered him an opportunity to be a part of the team to the Oceania tourney, and possibly including him for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
Sevens, Gregory reckons, is quite a different game that will develop his skills big time although 15s is probably his end goal.
Having had the luxury of playing both, he's in an ideal position to assess the good and the bad of 7s and 15s.
"Trainings are a little bit different for 7s. They are quite short and sharp, a lot of repeat speeds. With 15s it takes a lot more time and there's a lot going on in 15s rugby. I think 7s is quite good, it's relatively simple, and quite enjoyable."
There wasn't a hint of hesitation when asked whether he'd be back in his beloved Cambridge blue colours for the next Mitre 10 Cup campaign.
He's also yearning to get stuck in for Hikurangi in club competition and be part of the 125th anniversary season but that all depends on his 7s commitment and factors beyond his control such as injuries.
The 10-tournament World Sevens Series runs from December through to the first week of June while the Northland premier club rugby competition runs from April to the end of July.
Gregory also dabbled in athletics in his early teens but rugby, specifically 15s, has always been his passion.
"My family's really happy, 7s is a step in the right direction. Moving away from home for the first time, they're excited for me, gonna miss me a little bit but it's all good."
His versatility is perhaps not a surprise to those who know Gregory's idol growing up was dual international and former All Black lock Brad Thorn.
"[Thorn's] just a great role model on and off the field. I really enjoyed watching him play, even though I don't play in the same position as him but he was definitely the role model for me when I was younger," he said about the Queensland Reds' head coach.
While looking forward to next season, Gregory shared his thoughts on Northland's performance in this year's Mitre 10 Cup campaign where the team bowed out in the semi-final two years in a row.
"We were quite keen to get a home semi-finals this year but obviously just fell short on that but really happy with how we went and hopefully next year we can get the ball rolling and build on it again. Great bunch of guys, had a great culture."
A try Gregory scored in their loss to Waikato — steaming down the left flank in an excellent support play before receiving the final pass from Matty Wright — was among the best in this year's competition.
Gregory was unavailable for selection for the Blues for next year's Super Rugby competition due to 7s commitments.