The River City has a new All Black.
Former Whanganui Collegiate and Steelform Whanganui playmaker Stephen Perofeta has been named in Ian Foster's 36-man squad for the upcoming three-test series against Ireland.
Collegiate's head of sport Barry Touzel was co-coach of the 1st XV when Perofeta debuted for the school in 2013.
It was clear the young first five-eighth would be able to make rugby a profession, Touzel said.
Perofeta was "incredibly quick and incredibly strong for not a big chap".
"He was silky in his running, and far quicker than he looked.
"About three or four years ago, when he was injured, he was on the cusp of making it [the All Blacks] then.
"We thought that once he got back and had a season or two under his belt he would have a really good chance. We're elated for him."
Touzel said Perofeta was the first All Black to come out of Collegiate since David Kirk - the 1985 World Cup-winning captain.
"Stephen had planned on going into a building apprenticeship in Taranaki but of course, that fell by the wayside.
"His rugby just took off in that first year up there."
Perofeta currently plays for Taranaki in the Bunnings Warehouse NPC and the Blues in Super Rugby.
He is set to feature in this weekend's Super Rugby Pacific final against the Crusaders at Eden Park.
Before the move north, Perofeta notched up a season for Steelform Whanganui in the Heartland Championship in 2015, while still at Collegiate.
Then-coach Jason Caskey said one of his fondest moments was watching Perofeta score a try from 60 metres out against Horowhenua in Levin.
"He returned a kick, got on the outside, and they just couldn't catch him.
"That's one moment that comes to mind pretty quickly."
Perofeta's All Black inclusion showed there was a pathway to the highest level for young provincial players, Caskey said.
"Hopefully it shows that kids can play a year or two of Heartland before they make the jump to Manawatū or Taranaki."
Caskey said he had attended Taranaki training sessions over the last few years and seen Perofeta's development first-hand.
"That's in his confidence, talking to the playing group and the team and really becoming a tactical leader.
"He's grown in leaps and bounds, and you couldn't get a more humble guy."
Perofeta was also first five-eighth for the Baby Blacks in the World Rugby Under-20s Championship final against England, a game New Zealand won 64-17.
Last year he won the Duane Monkley Medal as the NPC's best player.
Like Caskey, Whanganui Rugby chairman Jeff Phillips said there was a pathway from Heartland rugby to All Black honours.
Before Perofeta, the last former Steelform Whanganui player to make the All Blacks was Waisake Naholo.
"It shows you can progress from doing your schooling in the city to playing for the Heartland team, then get recognised for your talent and get picked up by the big boys," Phillips said.
"Stephen is a lovely guy and this is the reward for his dedication.
"We are really proud that we were part of his journey."