Whānau has played a major part in Otere Black signing with the Bay Steamers for this year's Mitre 10 Cup.
The 25-year-old is has been playing for the Blues in the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition.
Black said becoming a first-time dad and getting to be near his whānau was a major reason for signing with the Bay of Plenty, in a press release this afternoon.
"We have a home here in Rotorua now and making sure my family could come and watch me play was a big factor," Black said.
"My mum and dad have been huge supporters for us growing up and they always try to come and watch us play.
"It's also a good opportunity to give back to my family and my people here in the eastern Bay."
Growing up in the eastern Bay of Plenty town of Rūātoki meant Black had an active upbringing.
"It's a bit different to nowadays with technology with iPads and movies and things like that. We never really had that back in the day.
"So, we would always head out and find things to do. Like eeling, fishing and all that sort of stuff. We were just real outdoor kids."
The 25-year-old's passion for rugby was born on the backyard playing fields of Rūātoki.
"Especially at the marae, there was always a rugby ball around and we would always play rugby or touch.
"They all get into the sports and everyone gets behind the local team. They really enjoy their sport there."
Playing professional rugby was a dream for Black.
"It was something I wanted to do, but for some reason I didn't think I'd get to do it, especially being a young Māori boy growing up. I never thought I'd get to where I am now."
Black says part of the reason the Blues have done well this season is through the club's culture.
"I think it's definitely played a part in coming together as a group and having a good culture within the club.
"There is a lot of us who come from a cultural background, we have a few Islander boys and a few Māori boys and we all sort of try to connect on and off the field."
Black said he was looking forward to joining the Steamers.
Bay of Plenty Steamers coach Clayton McMillan said securing Black's services for the Mitre 10 Cup would add another element to the team.
"He is a pretty quiet humble sort of guy, but one who brings a lot of experience and that's going to be beneficial to us.
"The fact he is from Rūātoki and is familiar with the Bay of Plenty region is icing on the cake."
McMillan said Black would be a great addition to the Steamers this season with the side's elevation to the Mitre 10 Cup Premier Championship.
"He brings a slightly different style to the table. I see Otere's strengths being his technical and tactical appreciation for the game. He understands how to put players in space and drive a team around the field. We have some exciting firepower in our backs so creating opportunities for them to shine will be a big part of our plans.
"Otere knows we've got some young talented players, including two very able first-fives in Dan Hollinshead and Kaleb Trask. That level of depth and quality in a game driver role will generate some internal competition for places, and ensure we are adequately covered positionally to meet the challenges of competing in the premiership."
Bay of Plenty Rugby chief executive Mike Rogers said it was great to have Black playing for the Bay of Plenty.
"You hear the cliché around role models. But I think we've got some fantastic young male and female talent in the Eastern Bay and right throughout the region.
"I think having Otere back in the Bay and just the way he's been able to forge a career in rugby is a great example for our young people."
Māori make up nearly 30 per cent of rugby players nationally and Rogers said having players like Black was a great influence for rangatahi.
"From a Bay of Plenty point of view having Otere and Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi involved on and off the field creates a really special opportunity.
"To have guys like them involved in our game here in the Bay will definitely help inspire our young Māori male and female players."
The Steamers will kick off their 2020 Mitre 10 Cup campaign on September 13 at 2.05pm against Taranaki in Inglewood.
The first home game for the Steamers will be against Southland at the Rotorua International Stadium on September 19.