Broncos utility Jordan Kahu has paid tribute to friends and family who saw him through the dark times of repeated injury rehabilitations after being named in the 23-man New Zealand squad to tour England later this month.
Kahu was one of four members of Brisbane's Grand Final team to be included in coach Stephen Kearney's squad for the three-Test tour and one of six rookies to have received an international call-up by the Kiwis.
Even before making his NRL debut in Round 4, 2013, Kahu had been plagued by serious injuries and when his knee buckled in the dying seconds of a pre-season trial at Redcliffe last year the immediate concern was that it would be career ending at just 23 years of age.
It wasn't until he awoke from surgery two weeks later that he was told that he had ruptured his medial ligament and not his ACL for what would have been a third time, and 18 months later he is on the verge of his Test debut.
"I'm proud of myself from where I've come from and not giving up," Kahu said after learning of his selection.
"Who knows, two years ago I could have just hung the boots up at such a young age and all of this wouldn't have happened this year.
"I'm just happy that I've had the people around me that I've had and I've got a lot of people to thank for where I am today.
"We didn't get what we wanted this year but I've got to thank my teammates for helping me to get selected.
"If we didn't have the year we've had this year I might not have been selected."
Kahu moved to Queensland with his family as a teenager in order to attend Keebra Park High on the Gold Coast but said there was never any question of choosing a possible Maroons Origin jersey over the country of his birth.
"Obviously I know my roots and I know where all my family's from and all that kind of stuff so there was not really any point in my mind where I was going to change allegiance," Kahu said.
"I'm a Kiwi through and through and I think anyone that knows me knows that so I'm more than happy to be selected.
"It's pretty special. Obviously this year has been pretty big for me so to top it off with Kiwis selection is pretty special.
"All my life I've wanted to play in a black jersey and hopefully I'll get the chance."
Currently the No.1-ranked rugby league nation on the planet, the Kiwis have won five of their past seven tests against England but Kahu believes the recent failure of the home nation in the Rugby World Cup may fuel the English to deliver their best.
"It's going to be tough over there. With the Rugby World Cup going on over there at the moment there'll be a lot of pressure on all the rugby teams over there so they'll be keen to beat us," said Kahu, who signed a new two-year deal with the Broncos in August.
The first Test between England and New Zealand will be held on Sunday, November 1 at KC Stadium in Hull.
Acclaimed rugby league writer Steve Mascord will be covering the New Zealand tour of England for NRL.com.