Local star Hayden Parker will be starting for the Highlanders in tonight's pre-season clash with the Blues in Queenstown.
Parker has been enjoying the fruits of his labour since joining up with the camp in October last year.
The 'Kurow Kid' produced a sterling performance in Oamaru last Friday, scoring two tries and converting both after coming off the bench in the second half.
Parker's family were present to witness him don the blue, gold and maroon jersey for just the second time and his father, Dave, cites dedication to a life-long dream as the catalyst of his son's rise to Super Rugby level.
"It was dedication and determination. He'd go out on his own as a kid and kick goals for three hours. He was always quite small but he was gutsy," he said.
"He wrote an article when he was about 9 years old saying he wanted to be like Tony Brown and now he's gone on to be coached by him and play with him. "
The first five-eighth grew up in a passionate rugby town that quite rightly boasts of its favourite son, World Cup winning skipper Richie McCaw, but the youngster's journey to the top was one shaped by fortitude and grit rather than a fairytale rise.
The former Otago Boys' student's development playing second fiddle to childhood hero Tony Brown at Otago was going smoothly until injuries tested his resolve.
Parker broke both his fibula and tibia in a match for Otago B, putting him out of action for nearly a year.
It was a long road back for the budding star but his relentless work rate culminated in a phone call to join the Highlanders for their 2013 Super Rugby campaign.
"I was stoked. It was something I'd wanted to do ever since I was a young fella, to get the phone call to say you're in was great," he said.
Parker said the intensity of training is a step up at Super Rugby level and he is looking to soak up as much as possible with the support of his senior colleagues.
"It's [training] a lot quicker and expectations are a lot higher, it's all a lot faster," he said.
"Getting to know all the players helps, and having Ma'a [Nonu] outside you is a pretty calming influence. It makes my job much easier."
Parker will now be looking to continue his good form tonight in Queenstown.