Mt Albert Grammar star Irae Simone always wanted to play for the Wallabies, and he's got the evidence to prove it.
The 25-year-old Simone, a Wallaby newcomer in Dave Rennie's first squad, partnered All Black centre Jack Goodhue in the Mt Albert first XV centres.
But they ended up with very different international aspirations, and now they could line up against each other this year.
Born and raised in Auckland, Simone's rugby hero was the outstanding Wallaby inside back Matt Giteau whose international career began when Australia were still rugby kings.
Simone was just 11 when he declared his international allegiance, something his parents reminded him of after he got the call up from Rennie.
"What's funny is that my parents in an old video growing up, they asked me 'what team would I want to play for' and I said 'the Wallabies,'" Simone said at the opening Wallabies training run in Hunter Valley.
"I looked up to a lot of players in the All Blacks, but I've never wanted to play for the All Blacks, and my family are huge supporters of the Wallabies.
"Being shown that and being told from my parents what I said back then, it's crazy, I still have to pinch myself that I'm here.
"I'm pretty grateful to have this opportunity. I'm just going to take it all in, enjoy this experience."
Following in Giteau's footsteps, Simone also plays at inside centre and can operate as a second playmaker.
"I'm not going to lie, my favourite player was Matt Giteau," he said.
"Just in terms of his skills, his mindset, just how he approached the game, he's a player I've always looked up to and then you had the greats like George Gregan. Back then the Wallabies were at their peak."
Simone also played rugby league at Mt Albert - whose most famous former pupil is Sonny Bill Williams - and figured in the 2013 national final loss to Kelston Boys High when he kicked three goals.
A Herald story from 2013 reports that Simone set up Goodhue for a try in a game against King's (before Goodhue was speartackled by future All Black teammate Josh Ioane).
He initially headed to Australia to play league for the South Sydney Rabbitohs under-20s. He proved to be a try scoring ace but walked away from the Rabbitohs revealing later he had suffered from depression, and then switched to rugby union with the Waratahs.
Simone helped the Brumbies win Australia's Super Rugby title this season. He shed eight kilograms and now weighs 102kgs, and says this has helped his game.
He faces tough competition to make the test starters, with Matt To'omua and a rejuvenated James O'Connor ahead of him. Then again, his power might be required against the All Blacks.
"There's not a position that's secured at the moment and I know that 12 is up for grabs," he said.
Simone said Rennie had clicked with the Wallaby squad.
"A lot of the boys have a lot of respect for him so far," he said.
"You've got to give respect to earn respect and he's one of those people that leads by his actions.
"I'm liking the style he wants. It's just quick footy. We want to play up-speed, with a lot of tempo, a lot of good skill.
"We just want to be physical, that's all he's after and that's what everyone's got to buy into, and then play with a lot of skill and good footy."