What was a day of firsts for junior rugby league players in Northland was also a day of firsts for the Penrith Panthers' executive general manager, and legend of the game, Phil Gould.
The former New South Wales State of Origin coach and NRL player, along with talent scout and player manager Darryl Mather, made his first appearance in Whangarei to plant the seed for future relations between the Panthers and Rugby League Northland (RLN).
Putting on a coaching clinic for a squad of junior players, Gould hinted it "won't be the last time" he visits the region.
"The welcome was outstanding, the boys really put in and everyone here's been really hospitable," he said.
Following in the footsteps of current Penrith players hailing form Northland, such as the likes of Sam McKendry, Elijah Taylor, Corey Harawira-Naera, Kake Steele and James Fisher-Harris, an array of up-and-coming NRL hopefuls fronted the clinic in a bid to make an impression on Gould and Mather.
Though the Northland boys lacked size when compared to players in other provinces of New Zealand and across the ditch, Gould said many of them made up for it through natural ability.
"The two things today that stood-out was the enthusiasm of the players, they have a great passion for the game, and the second thing was how much they improved the further the session went," Gould said.
"It's one thing to try and rate their skill level at this time [but] it's more important to rate whether they're coachable and can learn the skills with good coaching. I've got no doubt that a lot of those players can improve tremendously if they know what to practise and how to practise - I was really impressed with them."
Looking to establish a strong future relationship with the Penrith NRL side, RLN general manager Alex Smits said Gould's presence was the result of 18-months hard work between himself and Mather to get the league great up North.
"We've spent the last four years building up governance and structure, now we want to start building the performance pathways for players," Smits said.
"We're working through some details, Phil seems pretty happy in working with us so hopefully the details will come for us soon."
From Gould's point of view, the time to build a Northland bond is nigh.
"The people that are doing the work up here [Northland] are obviously very passionate about it and that's good for our code," Gould said.
"While we've got enthusiastic people here in the North of New Zealand, we're looking to promote the game and we'll always be around to lend a hand. There's only one NRL team in New Zealand and that's the Warriors - they can't take them all."