Brisbane Broncos prop Herman Ese'ese worked as a furniture removalist last year to 'kill some time' and now just six months later he is pulling on a Queensland jersey.
Ese'ese has been rewarded for a great start to the year, with his impressive 2016 form for Intrust Super Cup side Souths Logan earning him two caps for Brisbane in the NRL.
His stellar year has continued and he will now wear his first representative jersey, with the New Zealand-born workhorse set to run out for the Queensland Residents come Sunday's clash with NSW at Langlands Park in Brisbane.
But it hasn't always been plain sailing for Ese'ese, who arrived in Australia at just 16 years of age and struggled with life away from his New Zealand home.
He attended Wavell State High in Brisbane, impressing Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs officials at a rugby league carnival that resulted in him earning a contract with the Western Sydney club.
Ese'ese was released three seasons later after having a troubled time in Sydney, with the talented footballer struggling on and off the field.
Although grateful for the opportunity at the Bulldogs, Ese'ese says he's glad he's back in Brisbane.
"Brisbane's my second home so I consider myself a Queenslander," Ese'ese said.
"Moving over here by myself was tough. I was a 16-year-old kid.
"I moved in with family on my Mum's side that I hadn't met before so I got homesick. Living with family definitely helped me through it.
"I wasn't very happy when I lived in Sydney and I wasn't comfortable in that environment.
"I had one more year at the 'Dogs but I wanted to come back home to Brisbane.
"I needed some different scenery and to come back to Brisbane and start fresh."
Ese'ese arrived at the Broncos for the 2016 pre-season and was a massive 126kg – a weight seen as too heavy for a prop in today's game.
The 21-year-old is now one of Brisbane's fittest forwards and he puts it down to hard work, strict dieting and the help of the Broncos' fitness coaches Alex Corvo and Jeremy Hickman.
"I did some furniture removal when I came back to Brisbane to kill some time before pre-season and then I started pre-season with the Broncos," he said.
"I've lost 14kg since I've been up here. I was 126kg and now I'm about 112kg.
"It's a different pre-season at the Broncos compared to the Bulldogs. It's a lot more strict and focused on the dietary and nutrition. I spend an extra day during the week doing extras to get my weight down."
The drive to do all this extra work comes down to one thing for Ese'ese – family.
He says he wouldn't be where he is today if it wasn't for their support and the 21-year-old wants to give back.
"Supporting my family is what keeps me going," he said.
"I just want to help them out and they are always in the back of my mind with every move I make.
"I just want to be there for them and they are the reason I'm here. At pre-season they sit at the back of my mind and drive me to do my best."