Tom Ross wants to "take the bull by the horns" when the ACT Brumbies prop heads across the Tasman on a mission to take his game to another level.
The 23-year-old will join the Southland Stags this month ahead of New Zealand's National Provincial Championship.
The move is designed to expose Ross to a higher standard of rugby as the Brumbies look to bolster their depth in a star-studded front-row with an eye on a trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition next year.
The fall of the National Rugby Championship has left Australian rugby without a second-tier competition for Super Rugby players to compete in once Super Rugby finishes.
Now Ross will jump at the chance to test himself in New Zealand's premier club competition as he looks to push Brumbies skipper Allan Alaalatoa for more opportunities at Super Rugby level.
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"If you're not playing for the All Blacks, you're playing in this competition," Ross said.
"There's plenty of Super Rugby experience going around in the NPC. It'll be a great experience for myself and I can't wait to get over there.
"I've spoken to Dan [McKellar] a couple of times and he has been pretty keen to get me over there over the past year or so and play some high-level footy and get more game time.
"Obviously being behind Al, it's been tough to get high minutes. Heading over there, I'll get a bit more experience and in a different environment, it'll be cool.
"My grandmother is actually a Kiwi. That's always been in the back of our minds, getting over there to play if the opportunity arose.
"Over the past few years we've had NRC, which is pretty decent footy, so we haven't had to go over there. With us only having club footy in the second half of the year, it's an opportunity my manager and I had to jump at.
"Full credit to Dan and [high performance manager] Chris Tindall from the Brumbies, they've supported me all the way and they're pretty keen to get me over there for some high level footy."
Ross will be wrapped in cotton wool until he arrives in New Zealand on July 12, meaning he won't feature for the Gungahlin Eagles in the John I Dent Cup.
The NPC kicks off on August 6, with Southland's sights set on a grand final appearance on October 23, after which Ross will return to Canberra ahead of pre-season with the Brumbies.
The move doubles as Ross' first move out of home, but the former Junior Wallabies prop's partner Bre could follow him across the ditch upon completion of her university honours studies.
"I've kept in touch with the coach over there, Dale McLeod, we've been going back and forth on what we're going to do, when training starts and where I'll be living," Ross said.
"I'm sure I'll hit the ground running when I get over there. I'm really looking forward to jumping into another experience and taking the bull by the horns.
"I'll have this tournament and hopefully pick up a bit of momentum going into another Brums pre-season. Hopefully by next year I'm pretty confident in myself, when more minutes come my way, I can do my job for Al, [James Slipper], Scotty [Sio] and the Brumbies."
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