Ethan de Groot hopes his selection for the All Blacks will show others in Gore they do not have to leave to reach their dream.
The loosehead prop, who was educated in Gore, where most of his family still live, was the longest of long shots six months ago to be an All Black.
However, on Monday night, de Groot (22) was named in the All Black squad to play in the July internationals and will join up with the side in the next couple of days.
He is the latest All Black from the Gore district, following Jimmy Cowan.
The All Black goal had always been with the Australian-born and Gore-raised de Groot.
“It is just a dream come true. Any kid in New Zealand wants to be an All Black that plays footy, so I just can’t believe it has happened,” he told media yesterday.
“My parents signed me up when I was young and I just never stopped playing.”
De Groot first played for the Albion-Excelsior club in Gore, before then playing at Gore High School.
He left Gore High School, and went to Southland Boys’ High School as rugby became more of a focus.“Growing up, my favourite players were Carl Hayman and obviously Whopper [Jamie Mackintosh] from Southland.
“There has not been a hell of a lot since those guys sitting where I am now, so to follow in their footsteps has been pretty special.
“I’d like to think I have inspired parents and kids to stay in Southland and do their schooling in Southland because there is pathway.
“It is tough because you are not in the limelight but it can be done.
“A lot of parents send their kids away, out of the province to do their schooling and then they go on from there.
“But hopefully I’ve inspired some people to stick to their roots.”