Jackson Willison was a Waikato rugby household name from the mid-2000s to mid-2010s, now he is coaching the Te Awamutu Sports Premier team.
A humble bloke from Ōtorohanga who loves rugby and his family - Willison has done it all.
The 32-year-old won the Junior World Championship with New Zealand Under 20 in 2008, captained his home province of Waikato, is a proud former Māori All Black and won a Super Rugby title with the Chiefs in 2012, a highlight he says is hard to beat.
Now he's here to share that experience with his TA Sports players.
Willison, a cousin of Waikato FPC player Tenika Willison, attended Ōtorohanga College before finishing his schooling at Hamilton Boys' High School.
In Waikato club rugby he played for Ōtorohanga, Hamilton Old Boys and Hautapu.
Between 2007 and 2013 he represented Waikato on 60 occasions, captaining them in his last season.
His 61 games of Super Rugby were shared between the Chiefs and the Blues, departing the latter after the 2014 season to join French club Grenoble.
Next, he moved to the Worcester Warriors in the UK before heading to Bath Rugby.
July 2020 saw him join PROD2 club Soyaux Angoulême but he did not feature for them.
After an illustrious career, he knew it was time to retire after too many concussions.
Many players have shared their concussion stories recently with former All Blacks prop Ben Afeaki being the latest.
"The rules have always been the rules but now we've properly reffed them and coached them and the players have taken it seriously. The way the game is turning, players are bigger and faster so I think it's a good thing that these health issues are becoming more important," said Willison.
"The game has given me too much and I was on the recommendation of two health experts. It was an easy decision to finish. Health and my family are more important.
"The kids were born in the UK and we thought, why not bring them home now?"
Willison and his family made the move back to Aotearoa a month ago and since coming out of MIQ has started a role as a mentor at Ōtorohanga College, alongside his coaching in Te Awamutu.
"For now, I'm keen to get back to the grassroots and I've landed in TA which has been nice for me. The professional environment can be quite demanding on players and staff. I needed a break from it. The grassroots is still the same. Everyone wants to help and players are still passionate.
'That's why coaching grassroots, in my mind, is so easy. It's just about going out and giving the boys the right tools to enjoy it."
He was supposed to take the role on in 2022 but was asked to start immediately even with only a month left in the competition.
Jotham Wrampling, older brother of TA Sports, Waikato and Chiefs back Gideon, is coaching alongside him.
Willison's parents now live in Te Awamutu so it's a great opportunity to be close to them too.
Within his first fortnight of coaching, TA Sports had a 46-20 win over his old side Ōtorohanga at Ōtorohanga's Island Reserve.
"Of course, we got the result on Saturday and it was nice to rub it in," he said jokingly.
"I'd have been disappointed had we lost that game. I know the potential of this TA squad."
Reflecting back on his career, Willison has learnt and experienced a lot through the game of rugby.
"Often I saw my career as a pathway to new experiences. That's exactly what I got as I moved on. Rugby players never really did it back then; no one really from the Chiefs went to play for the Blues. Not many players left at 26 and I didn't actually think that I would spend eight years in Europe but that's how it played out.
"Every single year had its challenges but man, I think the advantages outweighed the disadvantages. Particularly my time in Europe was awesome."
He says the connections and friendships that he made while away are relationships that will last forever.
"I encourage rugby players at all levels, there's more out there. Rugby is a vehicle that can take you away from home but it can also bring you home, which is what I've done."
Willison's favourite teammate in Europe was Welsh No 8 Toby Faletau while 2019 Rugby World Cup winning Springbok Francois Louw, was also inspirational to play with.
"In New Zealand, the obvious one for me is Liam Messam. He's someone I looked up to from my club rugby days in Cambridge and someone I got to learn a lot from.
"Stephen Donald was also someone who would have a few stories to teach you and that's exactly what happened."
When asked about his Māori All Blacks experience, Willison had passion in his answer.
"It just meant more than a personal achievement putting on that jersey. It was my heritage and growing up on the West Coast it was inspirational, not only to my family but to all the kids. You realise soon after that, definitely not at the time, that it affects not only you but everyone around you, a positive effect," said Willison.
"It's a team like no other. There's a lot more to it than the actual game on the weekend but it's the game that brings us all together."
With two games left in the round-robin for TA Sports, Willison looks forward to seeing what his team can bring to the fore.
"Personally, I'm excited for what this club can achieve. I've arrived and it's been easy to make an impact because, often the boys see someone new, but I can see the talent there. Alongside that talent is the experience," he said.
"Whatever happens in the next two games I certainly encourage the town and hopefully, the community, to get around this club; I also encourage the club to get out in the community. I only hope good things for the club and for these players."