Croatian rugby, two words that you wouldn't normally think to associate with each other but in 1998 Croatia were on the road to World Cup qualification.
They played their first international match in 1992, against Bosnia and Herzegovina, which they won 47-3.
Over the next five years they took down a number of other countries, becoming a powerhouse lower tier rugby nation.
With the 1999 Rugby World Cup coming up, Croatia played Italy in a qualifying match.
The game was played at Makarska, a city on the Adriatic coastline of Croatia, 60km southeast of Split and 140km northwest of Dubrovnik, in the Split-Dalmatia County.
Former All Blacks, and rugby legends, Frano Botica (Croatia rugby #27) and Matthew Cooper (Croatia rugby #29) took the field for the hosts in this match.
Cooper played 26 matches for the All Blacks from 1987-1994 (eight tests and 18 games) but how did he come to play for Croatia?
"My late Mum, who passed away in 2017, she was Croatian. My grandparents came out from Croatia in the 1920s and moved to Waipukurau (Central Hawke's Bay)," said the Waikato rugby centurion.
"In 1998, a very good friend of mine, Antony Sumich, who was involved with Auckland Marist, was the coach of Croatia. They'd done really well leading up to qualifying for the 1999 Rugby World Cup."
Former league star Braith Anasta went back to his roots at the end of his career too, playing a match for Greece in 2013 where he scored 46 points including four tries and 15 goals in a 90-0 drubbing of Hungary.
"To play for Greece was a proud moment for me, for my dad and grandparents. It was the first time I was in Greece beforehand and I loved it," it says on Anasta's Wikipedia page.
Much like Anasta, Cooper hadn't been to the land of his origin before.
"I knew in '98, even though I felt as though I was playing the best rugby of my career. I felt that my All Black days were over. So, I asked a few questions because Antony said "look Matthew, we're playing the Italians, they're stacking the team. We have a one-off opportunity and we want you to play".
"Frano Botica had played for them before and so he was playing," recalls Cooper.
"I talked to my wife Kathryn. I kept on thinking that rugby has been great because it has given me opportunities, this was an opportunity. I'd never had the chance to go back to Croatia to see where all my family had come from. I felt as though New Zealand Rugby were okay with it and they said 'okay we give you our blessing'."
He ticked all the boxes; speaking to his club, Hamilton Marist, and Waikato Rugby also supported his decision - so, Cooper got on the plane to Croatia.
As soon as Italy realised that Botica and Cooper were playing, the Italians went all over the world to stack their team full of talent.
Croatia succumbed to the Azzurri 33-29 with Cooper scoring 24 of his side's points.
If they had taken the scalp, Ireland would have been the last stepping stone for World Cup qualification – unfortunately, a what if.
"Italy faded away in the first half and we came storming back - the place just erupted," said Cooper.
But the experience wasn't just about the game for him, there were plenty of other moments that he will never forget.
"I had the opportunity during the build-up to go way up in the mountains and go to the village where my grandparents were born, to meet family that none of our side of the family had met before.
"My Croatian family took me out to this clearing and there were all these broken down huts of stone and they pointed at them.
"I got interpreted that that's where my grandad was born. So, that's pretty powerful, standing in this clearing in the mountains and knowing that's where it all started."
It was a surreal feeling for Cooper, seeing where his family came from and representing his heritage in the red and white jersey.
"It was one of those things that felt so right and I'll never forget that. While I played 26 times for the All Blacks, 124 for Waikato, 63 for Hawke's Bay and lots for Hamilton Marist – that one jersey, that test jersey I've got for Croatia, is one that certainly holds pride of place."
In 2021, Croatia are ranked 45th on the World Rugby Rankings.
The first New Zealander of Croatian descent to play for Croatia was Brendon Winslow, against Luxembourg in 1995.
Paul Vegar, Paul Vujcich (Counties Manukau) and Rob and Reon Graham (Counties Manukau) also represented Croatia out of New Zealand.
Anthony Posa was another New Zealander who played many times for Croatia (1996–2003), playing out of both the GHA RFC, Glasgow, Scotland and Beverley RUFC, Yorkshire, England. His family originated from the Island of Korčula where Botica's grandparents were also born.
Dan Luger (England), Justin Tipurić (Wales) and Sean Fitzpatrick (New Zealand) are other famous players with Croatian heritage.
Former North Harbour, Northland, Blues and Māori All Blacks player Blair Urlich represented the Croatian Sevens side.
As former Waikato captain Jackson Willison stated recently, "rugby is a vehicle that can take you away from home but it can also bring you home".