The fight for a Black Sticks return has been a long and painful one for former Northland hockey player Dwayne Rowsell.
But the 28-year-old defender has finally achieved redemption as he was offered a full contract for the national men's hockey team a month ago after being dropped in 2015.
Rowsell, who was raised in One Tree Point and now lives in Auckland, had hockey in his blood at a young age as his three older sisters - Jan, Rhonda and Trudy - all represented New Zealand at a senior or age-group level.
As a child, Rowsell split his time between rugby and hockey before he reached the end of intermediate school in 2004 by which time, he had played and won with Northland at an age-group level.
• Black Sticks Men secure place at 2020 Olympics after winning qualifiers
• Vantage Black Sticks hockey team seals series win
• Premium - Hockey: Black Sticks women inspire next generation at Malfroy School
• Black Sticks Men's Olympic qualifier games - create a great sign and win
Then at the age of 12, Rowsell decided to commit to hockey by moving to Auckland for high school.
"For me, I wanted a challenge," Rowsell said.
"When you get a taste of success and you just want to be the best in your given sport, I knew that going to Auckland would really help me be the best hockey player I could be."
From the age of 18 to 22, Rowsell toiled away in the New Zealand development squad but couldn't break into the senior team.
After a stint playing and travelling in Europe, Rowsell finally earned his call-up in 2014 and went on to play 25 games, including a famous win over Australia in Malaysia.
Adam Pearse: Spark Sport resistance is futile
Hockey: Northland's under-15 national champions
However, Rowsell's time in the hockey spotlight was short-lived as he wasn't offered a contract in 2015, which made him think his time in the black singlet was over.
"I don't think I processed [the hurt] for a little while, I just threw myself into work and thought, 'that's my path now', I didn't think there would be another opportunity," he said.
"I knew I was good enough to be in the team when I missed out, so I just had to move on."
The pain of exclusion stayed with Rowsell over the next two years and meant he didn't play a single game of hockey in 2016 or 2017.
It was only last year when Rowsell finally made a return through a couple of club games for Somerville in Auckland, before making a comeback for the Auckland men's team in this year's National Hockey League.
Any rust Rowsell might have had after two years away from the game clearly didn't show as he received a full Black Sticks contract, much to his excitement.
"I was ecstatic at the opportunity, there were emotions from when I was dropped in 2015 that came through, there was just that feeling, 'I'm doing this again'.
"I was satisfied that I'd pulled on the shirt, but there was some unfinished business with what I'd achieved in the shirt and with the team."
Rowsell will return for the Black Sticks early next year when they take on a host of different nations from February to May before a full squad training camp in June, which will see the squad for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo selected.
Rowsell, who considers Northland his home, said his primary goal would be to make the Olympics squad and see the Rowsell name back up in lights.
"I want an Olympic medal around my neck and I think we've got a strong team this year to make a case for an Olympic medal," he said.
"My sister [Jan] went close but she didn't quite make it and I know she had a couple of injuries, but I'm definitely doing it for all the Rowsell siblings."
Now facing the task of balancing work with the Black Sticks and his boxing-inspired group fitness business Studio Box, Rowsell knows the road will be tough but well worth the hard work.
"I'm doing it for the guy who trained his heart out from 15 to 22, the years that I've sacrificed throughout university, to manage a fulltime job and be a fulltime athlete, that pain is what I'm doing it for now."