When Lalomilo Lalomilo won the Jock Hobbs Memorial National Under 19 tournament with his Bay of Plenty Under 19 team last year he had no idea he would be representing New Zealand internationally today.
The versatile midfielder, who plays club rugby for Te Puke, is part of the New Zealand Under 20s squad that has been in camp at Mount Maunganui this week in preparation for their Under-20 World Championship campaign in Argentina.
Earlier this month the national squad suffered a 24-0 loss to Australia in the Oceania Tournament final. Lalomilo says they learnt a lot from that loss and have been putting in a lot of work to ensure a better result in Argentina.
A win at the worlds, Lalomilo says, is the "main goal" for the New Zealand Under 20s team and he hopes to be able to help make that happen.
The national squad leaves for Argentina today and Lalomilo says he is hoping to take out the title with his team-mates, including fellow Bay of Plenty Cole Forbes (Te Puke), Jeriah Mua and Leroy Carter (Tauranga Sports) and Kohan Herbert (Mount Maunganui).
Some of their efforts were seen in their hit-out against a Bay of Plenty XV Wasps' side while in town. The national squad took a 60-21 win over the Bay team at Te Puke's home ground at Murray Salt Stadium on Tuesday night.
He says playing for New Zealand on his club's home ground, with some of his Bay team-mates "was unreal".
Despite being so young, Lalomilo has already had a successful career and he's blown away by how far he has come.
He captained the De La Salle 1st XV before moving to Bay of Plenty. Last year he and his Bay of Plenty Under 19 teammates won the Jock Hobbs Memorial National Under 19 tournament and made his Mitre 10 Cup debut for Bay of Plenty Steamers.
"It's such a blessing to be honest, been through a lot of down times with these boys. It's all starting to pay off."
He has no doubt moving to the Bay of Plenty has been a good decision and is looking forward to what else 2019 can bring.
Lalomilo also plays club rugby for defending Baywide champions Te Puke and, although he hasn't been available to play much this season, he's looking forward to joining his team back on the field when he returns from the world champs.
"When I get back I should be good to go."