It's been lauded as a major cross-code coup but, in many ways, Tyla Nathan-Wong's NRLW switch to the Dragons is a homecoming for a dyed-in-the-wool leaguie.
In fact, the 28-year-old was a teammate of Sharks NRL wrecking ball Braden Hamlin-Uele in Auckland as a six-year-old growing up in a league-mad household.
She went on to become one of the most decorated Rugby Sevens stars to strap on a boot, but those league roots remained as strong as ever.
"I come from a league family, league was the first sport I ever played," Nathan-Wong told the Mercury.
"I was six years old, I was actually in the same team as Braden Hamlin-Uele from the Sharks. We played alongside each other with the New Lynn Stags and Ponsonby Ponies together back in the day. My dad and uncle coached us, my cousin was in there too.
"That was my first sport, I guess you could say my first love.
"Obviously as I got older I found my path in rugby when I got to high school and never really went back, but during that whole period I was watching my dad and grandad coach different teams, my brother, and then eventually my sister also play league throughout the years.
"Once the NRLW competition started, I was a true supporter from the beginning. I tuned in to every game I could and watched those girls play. Seeing how awesome they were and how cool the competition was, I just thought 'man, how cool would it be to one day go and play that sport?'"
The nagging question became an itch, one that would have left her kicking herself had she let it go unscratched. It's what prompted her to seek a release from her deal with New Zealand Rugby to take up the Dragons offer.
"I'm the type of person that doesn't like to live by any regrets," she said.
"I was potentially looking at doing it after Tokyo [Olympics], but the timing just wasn't quite right there with how it finished mid-season for the NRLW. We looked at when the next opportunity to potentially do it would come up and it was this year.
"There's a big off-season period for the Sevens program, there's nothing really kicking off in regards to World Series tournaments until around November-December.
"It came at the right time where I felt like I needed something new, something refreshing to refresh the mind, body and soul and jump in feet first. I'm not about what ifs or anything like that.
"I want to do something that I'm truly passionate about and I know it's going to only benefit me, make me happy and bring that challenge back into my life. It's not missing from Sevens, but I've been there for so long.
"I've been there for 12 years, so it's cool to be able to do this and have no regrets. Whatever happens at the end of the season, I'll make my mind up around what it looks like, but until then I'm paying as much respect to the Dragons and to the NRLW, diving head first into it and giving it my all."
Having dealt with an exodus of marquee talent, Jamie Soward's final roster piece is a massive coup given the Kiwi star's pedigree as an Olympic Gold and Silver Medalist, a two-time Commonwealth Games Medalist, and two-time Sevens World Cup-winner.
They're credentials that suggest she'll make the same immediate impression the likes of fellow Olympians Emma Tonegato, Evania Pelite and former Black Ferns teammate Gayle Broughton have made on the NRLW.
However, as the two-time Black Ferns Player of the Year is first to point out, it promises to be a learning curve having not played the 13-a-side code since those early days alongside Hamlin-Uele.
"It's not going to be easy, I know that," she said.
"It was awesome to see those girls going from Sevens and then jumping into the league. Obviously Emma had a bit of a background in the league to begin with, but I don't think Vani did at all.
"It was just cool to see those girls try something different, and then the likes of my own Black Ferns teammate Gayle Broughton making that change, switching over and giving league a crack.
"She's done amazing too. She ended up taking the Eels to the grand final where they just went down to the Knights, and now [she's] at the Broncos. It's just cool to see these girls who are able to make that transition. It gives you hope as a player that you too could do that."
Should she make to the switch just as seamlessly, Nathan-Wong promises to form a lethal halves combination with reigning Dally M Medalist Raecene McGregor at the Dragons, something that was a major selling point for Soward.
"I got to have a chat with a few different clubs that showed their interest in me but the initial phone call from Sowie, I got really good vibes from it all," Nathan-Wong said.
"Hearing how passionate he is about the women's game, he's not using it as a stepping stone to get anywhere. This is what he wants to do, he's putting his full head and heart into this program.
"I think I can bring a lot that I've learned in regards to just being a professional athlete over my 12 year tenure with the Black Ferns Sevens. There was that drawcard of potentially pairing in the halves with Raecene McGregor too.
"She's the Dally M Medal-winner from last year and the in-form number seven in the game so I can learn a lot from her and she can teach me a bunch of stuff.
"I think that's the plan and where we both see myself fitting but I'll work hard to earn the right to pull that jersey on come July 22nd. I know I'm not just going to be given it, I've got to earn the right to put it on."
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