Illawarra's Tristan White was content to put his international hockey ambitions on the backburner to focus on finishing a finance degree at University of Wollongong.
But, with a semester of study still remaining, it all changed for the 22-year-old yesterday, when he was selected in the Champions Trophy squad for next month's tournament in Melbourne.
Even while balancing the books, White remained firmly on legendary coach Ric Charlesworth's radar.
"When I missed out on going to the Olympics, Ric told me the next thing to focus on was the Champions Trophy," he said.
"But being picked was pretty unexpected this year. I hadn't been training as much because I wanted to get my degree done.
"I've only got a semester left. I wanted to make sure I finished uni so I could put it behind me and then see what happens with hockey.
"After the Olympics and World Cup, it's the third biggest tournament, so it's a surprise, but I'm very happy to be there."
White was named in an 18-man squad which also features fellow Illawarra player Kieran Govers and three-time Olympian Jamie Dwyer.
Charlesworth's list was completed with a view to building a squad capable of winning gold in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, following back-to-back Olympic bronze medals.
"The first Champions Trophy in the new Olympic cycle will allow teams to try different things," Kookaburras assistant coach Graham Reid said.
"It's important to have some younger players there and bring back athletes we might want to have another look at in different positions."
After playing for Australia A in the pre-Olympic tournament earlier this year, White impressed during NSW's fourth placing in last month's Australian Hockey League campaign.
"I felt I was pretty solid," he said.
"I was a bit more involved this year as part of the leadership group and playing more minutes in a central role.
"I'd been starting to get some Aussie games and for a while there I thought I was an outside chance at going [to London].
"But when I didn't get selected, I couldn't knock the team that was picked and I went back to focusing on uni."
The Champions Trophy features Olympic champions Germany, who knocked Australia out in the semi-final, as well as runners-up Netherlands, England, India, New Zealand, Belgium and Pakistan.
With Rio as his long-term goal, White - who moved to Wollongong at the age of 14 - is set for the relocated Australian camp in Perth fulltime after completing his study.
He said his Champions Trophy teammate Govers played an important role in his career.
"Kizz has always helped me out," he said. "I lived with him when I was in Perth training for the first year. So, hopefully, we'll be playing plenty of games for Australia together."
Australian Champions Trophy squad: George Bazeley (Vic), Mark Knowles (Qld), Kiel Brown (WA), Josh Miller (NSW), Joel Carroll (NT), Trent Mitton (WA), Andrew Charter (ACT), Eddie Ockenden (Tas), Chris Ciriello (Vic), Simon Orchard (NSW), Jamie Dwyer (Qld), Glenn Simpson (Vic), Russell Ford (Vic), Matthew Swann (Qld), Kieran Govers (NSW), Tristan White (NSW), Fergus Kavanagh (WA), Jason Wilson (Qld).