Hamilton boy and Chiefs midfielder Quinn Tupaea, 22, has just been named as one of four new All Blacks - against his expectation.
When the 2021 All Blacks squad was announced on Monday, Quinn was in camp with the Māori All Blacks in Wellington, watching the selection on TV with his team.
"I didn't think I was going to get named, so when my name was called, I sort of went blank for a second. It was a special moment, but at first I didn't know how to feel, I was shocked. Then, I had a very emotional call with my parents," he says.
The former Hamilton Boys' High School student said his family - mum and dad Brent and Kelly Tupaea and brothers Tane and Mason - were just as shocked as he was when they heard the news, but they were also really proud. "My parents and brothers are my biggest fans."
Although he also has a small but loyal fan club already: Tupaea Fire. "It even has a banner! It's my Uncle Elliot's thing. He has been doing it since I was in high school. It has one member - him."
Uncle Elliot Tiffany is a teacher in the physical education and sports department at Southwell school in Hamilton where Quinn played in the primary school's 1st XV.
Elliot says: "I used to call to support him with shouts of "Tupaea Fire" when he was playing for Hamilton Boys. I told him if he ever made the Waikato premier team or the Chiefs, I would make him a banner."
Elliot says Quinn has many more fans than just him - including his cousins and heaps of extended family.
"When Quinn played for the Māori All Blacks for the first time, his father's family from Ngaruawahia came to the game in Hamilton - with another Tupaea Fire banner."
After starting his rugby journey at Southwell, Quinn became team captain for Hamilton Boys' High and then New Zealand Secondary Schools. In 2018, he came onto the scene for the Waikato Rugby Union and a year later he was selected to play in the World Rugby Under 20 Championships for New Zealand.
In his debut season for the Gallagher Chiefs in 2020, he especially impressed against the Blues in the opening game of the 2020 Super Rugby competition. This later brought him the title Chiefs rookie of the year. In 2020, he made his debut as a Māori All Black against Moana Pasifika.
Like lots of boys, Quinn always wanted to be an All Black. "I started really thinking about it in year 12 or 13 in high school. Me and my brothers always used to do the haka in front of the TV before games."
Playing with and for the Chiefs was one highlight of his career, he says. "My dad wanted me to be a Māori All Black, so achieving that was also pretty cool, too. I am sad leaving the Māori All Blacks, but it will be a good opportunity."
The All Blacks have three Tests next month, one of them against Fiji in Quinn's home town. "I was looking at the stadiums we'll be playing in and I didn't realise we had a game in Hamilton. I'd have hundreds of family members there."
Quinn says he is mostly looking forward to learn from the other players and develop his game. "But it will be awesome just to be on the field with world-class players."
Meanwhile, Uncle Elliot says he will be rolling out the fan club banner at Southwell this week to celebrate Quinn's achievement with the school's 1st XV.