Ollie Sapsford had a rugby ball in his hands from the moment he could walk.
But it wasn't until the New Zealander found himself playing Australian rules while working on a farm in Western Australia that he thought he might be able to make a career out of it.
Sapsford's is a story of persistence.
Here is a young man who was lost to rugby, opting to leave his homeland on a vastly different path. But as soon as he decided to buckle in for a shot at his first love, there was no turning back.
Today he is reaping the rewards, because now Sapsford finds himself in ACT Brumbies colours with his sights set on a Super Rugby Pacific debut in the new year.
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"To be honest, it was actually when I was in Perth and I was playing some club footy, some AFL stuff over there," Sapsford said.
"They were asking what I was up to. I just went over to work on a farm for a year and they were asking what I was up to for the next year, I was going home and they were saying 'you should go to Perth and give footy a crack', Aussie rules that is.
"I sort of had a moment to myself and thought 'if I can do that in one season, I'd much rather go home and play the game I love and give rugby a crack'.
"From when I could walk to when I was probably 14, 15, I used to love rugby. It used to be the only thing I did as a kid. I just sort of grew up, went to a rural school, got interested in building and started a building apprenticeship when I was 16.
"I sort of just went through a different path, really cracked down on building and wanted to get my apprenticeship done. Once I got that done, I had a bit more freedom and I found myself coming back to rugby."
I didn't play through the school system. I started when I was 19, 20, so that hard work I put in then is starting to show off.Ollie Sapsford
Sapsford arrived in Canberra via Hawke's Bay in New Zealand's National Provincial Championship, where he played a starring role in the back line.
The 26-year-old hopes his unconventional path to Super Rugby will wind up with a place in the Brumbies side as a centre or on a wing.
It goes some way to explaining why he finds himself leaning heavily on Test-capped inside centre Irae Simone, because "he's in a similar position to where I want to be so he's been great".
Sapsford faces a tough task to break into an impressive Brumbies back line. Wallabies outside centre Len Ikitau wears the No. 13 jersey while Simone is on his inside.
Wallabies winger Tom Wright occupies one edge while Test contender Andy Muirhead features on the other. But Sapsford is determined to earn a chance after signing a two-year deal.
"To be honest I'd just be happy to be on the field," Sapsford said.
"Coming over here I looked at it as playing in the midfield, looking to grow as a midfielder and get some experience in there. I would love to be in there but more than happy to be on the wing. Anywhere on the field would be great.
"It feels awesome [to be in a Super Rugby program] actually, because the work I put in three or four years ago is the work that is starting to pay off now. I did a lot of hard work when I was just a club player wanting to be a professional.
"You've got to start somewhere, and I didn't play through the school system. I sort of started when I was 19, 20, so that hard work I put in then is starting to show off. I'm super grateful and super excited to be here."
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