When Jack Goodhue and his mate Josh Larsen were 11-years-old they both played for the United Kawakawa Under 12 side and their dads Bernard and Andrew coached the team.
But on Wednesday night the old team mates played in opposing teams at the Rugby World Cup in Japan with Goodhue pulling on a black jersey for the All Blacks and Larsen wearing the red strip of the Canadian national team.
The All Blacks ran in a near-record 63-0 win over Canada in steamy Oita, Japan.
It was 24-year-old Goodhue's first start in World Cup rugby as he comes back from a hamstring injury and for Larsen, 25, it was his second having played against Italy in his team's first match of the tournament.
But after the latest game the two Taniwha lads who started their rugby careers in rural Northland caught up and swapped their playing jerseys.
The match was watched on television by their older brothers back home in Northland.
Cam Goodhue, assistant coach for the Taniwha this season, said it was great to see two "humble kids" from Kawakawa make it on the international rugby stage.
"It means a lot to see these guys come through the grades and then take the opportunities and end up in the top ranks of world rugby."
He said he hadn't spoken to Jack since the game but in a message he had seemed happy to get back in the mix and in the swing of things.
Goodhue said he would be on a plane to Japan if the All Blacks made the finals.
Jack's fiancee and mum and dad were booked to be in Japan from the quarter finals on.
Travis Larsen, who played with his brother Josh in the Austin Elite team in Texas this season, was in Paihia looking after his dad's YHA Hostel when he watched the game.
The brothers were born in Nanaimo, British Columbia, but grew up in Paihia after moving to their father's home at a young age.
Travis represented New Zealand Universities while Josh played for Otago University and completed seven games in the Cambridge blue of Northland.
"It was great to see Josh and Jack, a couple of boys from a small town in Northland, at the top of the game."
Travis said while the result was rather one sided having the chance to play against the All Black's — the best team in the world — was an amazing experience for his younger brother.
"He loved being out there against the All Blacks and dad was over there in the crowd and was so proud," Travis said.
"He caught up with Jack after the game and they swapped jerseys. To get a playing jersey from an All Black at the World Cup is pretty special. It will be coming home and getting framed that's for sure."
There was a chance Travis too could have donned the Canadian jersey at the World Cup having trained in the wider squad of 40 players. However when the team was reduced to 31 he narrowly missed the cut.
And another Northlander making a mark at the World Cup is 33-year-old Dean Budd, a former Taniwha, who captained the Italian team in their opening game against Canada.
Cam Goodhue played with Dean Budd in the Taniwha team for a season and said to see him representing Italy was also good for Northland.
"It just shows you what talent we have here in Northland. For him to captain the Italian side is a real honor for him and it shows they have a lot of respect for him."