One of my first assignments for the Herald on Sunday was an ITM Cup match between Taranaki and North Harbour. It was October 2010 and a young kid called Beauden Barrett, barely out of high school, had turned plenty of heads since making his debut a few months earlier.
My mission was to find out if he had decided between the Blues and the Hurricanes, who were both after his signature.
I waited outside the sheds until almost everyone had gone, before the team manager emerged and said "I'll just get Beaudy for you mate".
The 19-year-old didn't give much away, but was friendly, engaging and happy to chat, stood in his shorts, clutching a beer.
I didn't cross paths with Barrett again until last year's ASB Classic, when he was making a sponsor's appearance. It was impressive, that despite his subsequent achievements, fame and celebrity, he seemed pretty much the same guy that I had met a decade earlier.
Other big names, who I've had a lot more to do with, like Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Shaun Johnson, Simon Mannering, Chris Wood, Laura Langman, Hamish Bond and Michael Venus, were exactly the same.
Incredibly driven and ambitious, but also humble and grounded.
There are exceptions, but that's been the case for most New Zealand sportspeople, and one of the best things about this job. Getting interviews has become more complicated – for various reasons – but telling their stories remains a privilege and a pleasure.
I've reflected on all this recently, as my time at the Herald comes to a halt, due to the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. There may be another chapter in the future, if and when sport can get back to normal, but it's been a great ride.
The other highlight of the job has been witnessing history; the triumph, despair and magic that live sport can provide.
Watching the Warriors trump the Melbourne Storm in 2011 stands out - a near-perfect performance that took them into the grand final.
A crazy match against the Tigers in Wellington in 2014 was also memorable, as was the victory over the Dragons in 2018, where they played like men possessed, and the Mt Smart crowd responded in kind.
I was fortunate to be among the 90,000 people at the Azteca Stadium in 2013, which was a wonderful occasion, even if the match between the All Whites and Mexico was dreadfully one-sided.
Venus, Rubin Statham and Marina Erakovic provided some great memories with singles wins at the ASB Classic, while Bond and Eric Murray's gold medal row (they prevailed by centimetres) at the 2010 Rowing World Championships on Lake Karapiro was a unique moment.
I'll always remember Jason Taumalolo's rollicking Kiwis' debut in 2014, when he helped flatten the Kangaroos, on the way to a 30-12 victory, in front of vocal expatriate support in Brisbane.
The Four Nations final that year in Wellington was also special. The Kiwis were superb, with some scintillating tries, and then desperate defence as the Australians threatened to steal it late.
The 2015 Anzac test was a collector's item. It was played on a Sunday afternoon (after a tropical downpour prevented the Friday night kick-off) and the Kiwis enjoyed their first mid-year success since 1998. I'll never forget the shockwaves in the press box, as the home side trailed 26-6 at halftime.
For a once in a lifetime sporting experience, surely nothing will top the scenes in Lima in 2017, as Peru hosted the All Whites.
From the snake charmers and shaman putting a 'curse' on the visiting players, to the air force jets swooping the team hotel, this was much more than a sporting contest
The Andean nation had been waiting 35 years to return to a World Cup, and it felt like nothing was going to stop them.
The ground was almost full an hour before kick-off and the crowd exploded with Peru's opening goal. There was no way back for the All Whites, who looked weary from their crazy travel schedule and needed a fully fit Wood.
But probably my favourite occasion didn't involve a New Zealand team.
Mate Ma'a Tonga's unexpected run through the 2017 Rugby League World Cup reached a crescendo in the semifinal against England.
The match was an intoxicating mix of physical carnage on the field, and beautifully sung church hymns off it.
The Pacific team didn't play well, over hyped and full of mistakes. That was until the last eight minutes, when they launched an amazing comeback, scoring 18 unanswered points.
The fantastic Tongan crowd had never stopped cheering for their team, even when they were 20-0 down, and were now beside themselves with pride and joy, in an explosion of patriotism.
It was a reminder of what sport can do, and why it's been missed so much.
Thanks for reading.