Ruben Wiki can still remember the games of bullrush he played on concrete while growing up in Otara.
There it was about survival, about effort, about toughness.
He would not have known it at the time, but those bruising encounters were planting the seeds for one of the greatest rugby league careers in history.
The 1994 premiership winner is set to join the NRL Hall of Fame this week to further cement his status as one of the game's finest.
The former Canberra Raiders captain joins fellow New Zealand great Stacey Jones, Danny Buderus and Craig Young in the NRL Hall of Fame's class of 2019.
Wiki also joins Raiders greats Mal Meninga, Laurie Daley, Glenn Lazarus, Bradley Clyde and Ricky Stuart in the illustrious group, which is now set to contain 110 players.
It is an honour Wiki could scarcely have imagined when he was pulling on his Otahuhu Leopards jumper every weekend during those bitter Auckland winters.
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It was there Wiki honed his craft before being lured to Canberra to kick off his 311-game career in the world's toughest rugby league competition.
And it was there the foundations were laid for Wiki to become New Zealand's most capped player with 55 Tests.
Wiki would play just three games in his rookie season in 1993, with a start on the wing bisecting two caps off the bench.
But he wasted little time in making a name for himself the following year as he started 25 games at centre and helped the Raiders to their third premiership.
He had quickly emerged as one of the game's hottest young talents but that was so nearly it for Wiki's time in lime green.
The arrival of the Auckland Warriors nearly saw Wiki pried away from the clutches of the Green Machine.
He stayed then - but Wiki would eventually finish his career on home soil.
Wiki brought down the curtain on his 224-game career in Canberra in 2004 before returning home to join the New Zealand Warriors for four seasons.
Wiki and Jones will take the Kiwis' presence in the Hall of Fame to three following former national skipper Mark Graham's selection last year.
A voting college featuring rugby league legends, journalists and statisticians selected their top five players to be included in the Hall of Fame.
The final four players were selected through an independent audit of the votes, with the group to formally join the Hall of Fame in a ceremony in Sydney on Wednesday.
"All four of our player inductees will stand proudly alongside the 106 players who they will join in the Hall of Fame," NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said.
"These are some of the best players of their generations, and they will now join the best of the best.
"They each dominated their respective eras and commanded enormous respect. They still do.
"This year's Hall of Fame class is an exceptional one. We will be recognising greatness when our latest class are formally inducted."