Charles Piutau will be within touching distance of test rugby this weekend. He will don New Zealand's black and white colours, and run out alongside several international team-mates.
The opponent is England, the stage Twickenham, just as it was when Piutau started on the right wing and the All Blacks defeated the hosts back in 2013. These days, though, the Barbarians is as close as it gets to rugby's pinnacle arena.
Piutau is fine with that now, too. But when he shocked many by leaving New Zealand for the UK in the prime of his early 20s, he needed time to make peace with closing the door on test rugby.
"I was thinking about that," Piutau reflects in the London Hilton this week as Baabaas coach Pat Lam, Steven Luatua, John Afoa and Alapati Leiua mill about. "I haven't played on the international stage in four years so I'm definitely excited about being out there again and having fun. We get some good crowds for European rugby but Twickenham, getting back out there and playing against England, I'm pretty excited."
The last of Piutau's 17 tests came against the Springboks at Ellis Park in 2015, just before he decided to move abroad, and he then missed selection for the All Blacks' second successive World Cup win.
While much time has passed, even now it seems a waste this immensely talented 27-year-old is confined to professional club rugby. That, though, is the route he chose in order to cash in and support extended family.
"The first year when I came over I was always watching the All Blacks and thinking about not being involved. After that phase goes by you just support the team like any other Kiwi around the world. I just enjoy the brand of rugby they play."
Piutau hoped to switch allegiance and qualify for Tonga in time for the World Cup by featuring on the sevens circuit. He expects the odd pang of envy watching the tournament in Japan play out from afar but, for the most part, he will be content as the dominos fall.
"Tonga approached me and talked to me about all that. There's still that part of you that wants the international level but things didn't work out qualifying wise for the tournaments to happen.
"There will be a small part of me that wants to be there but I more just enjoy seeing the contenders and who is going to win it. New Zealand are probably the favourites but England, Ireland or Wales will be there.
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"Since being over here in the Northern Hemisphere and seeing how much growth these teams have made I won't be surprised if any of those three teams make the final.
"Obviously the World Cup is a different stage. It's knockout rugby and tournament style that comes into play and New Zealand will give it a good crack."
The timing of Piutau's move abroad was something of a game-changer for New Zealand rugby. It certainly opened the eyes of others, particularly those with Polynesian heritage or humble upbringings, to the prospect of pursuing offshore riches much sooner than previously common.
"Before that leaving New Zealand was more done at the end of your career. I've spoken to a lot of guys since coming over about how I've found it and there's been a wave of younger guys come to play their footy here."
Since departing, Piutau played one season for Wasps, two in Belfast with Ulster and is now one of the world's highest paid, on £1 million (NZD $1.9m) annually at Bristol.
"Time has flown by. I remember coming over and trying to get used to the country and the footy and now it's like home.
"It has been nice to be part of different environments, different countries, and see how footy is in different competitions.
"In my time in Ireland the national team started doing really well. As you get to know the local boys there and the talent coming through it wasn't surprising to see them playing so well against the All Blacks and everyone else."
This season hasn't gone to plan. Piutau played 11 of a possible 34 games for Lam's Bristol Bears with shoulder, hamstring and calf injuries significantly restricting his influence.
"For my career it's been the most injuries I've had in one season so it's been tough from that aspect."
This weekend's Baabaas match will be his final of the season before preseason resumes in one month. After finishing ninth, Bristol's sights are again set on the top six of England's Premiership Rugby next season, a rank that comes with a seat at the coveted Champions Cup table.
To get there, Piutau needs to play a leading role.
"It's probably the closest we get to Super Rugby and playing the best of the best over here. Hopefully the club is able to get there. It would be a massive step forward.
"As an organisation and a team and what we're doing for the city… going into the competition a lot of people were expecting us to go back down after being newly promoted.
"We had higher goals and felt we underachieved but it's the start of a journey.
"I've got another year on my contract but I'd definitely like to stay longer. The nature of the game is we'll see what happens when that time comes."