Alex Glenn's rugby league heroes were very close to home.
From when he first began to walk – and then run – Glenn would go down to the Birkenhead War Memorial Park in Auckland's north and watch his uncles play for the Northcote Tigers.
As they did battle on the field, Glenn and his cousins and friends would play their own game on the other side of the sidelines until at the age of five he was finally old enough to play for Northcote himself.
And while other kids growing up in Beach Haven on Auckland's north shore may have harboured dreams of playing for the All Blacks, Glenn knew from a very early age that rugby league was where his heart lay.
"Every kid wants to be an All Black but in my family it was rugby league through and through. There was no second doubts of playing rugby union, it was always just rugby league in my family," Glenn told NRL.com.
"When you go to school everything is rugby union but I always wanted to be an NRL player.
"Ever since I was walking I had a rugby league ball in my hand and every weekend I was at my uncles' games watching them and playing footy on the sidelines with the other kids and stuff.
"Those are things that I will always cherish. We had a big family so there'd be a couple of my uncles playing in the same team and I just loved it."
As he comes back from shoulder surgery Glenn remains hopeful that he will be able to return to Auckland next weekend as a member of the Broncos' squad for the Downer NRL Auckland Nines and relive his earliest days in the game.
The Auckland weather in February is generally much kinder than it can be in the depths of winter and the 28-year-old remembers vividly waking up on a Saturday morning eager to hear whether the Tigers would have a game to play that day.
"Because it was in New Zealand we used to wake up early in the morning and we had to listen to the radio to see if our game was cancelled and if it was cancelled we were shattered because we had to wait another week to play footy," he said.
"After games we used to go home and had to stuff the newspaper into our boots so they'd be dry for training; chuck them in the hot water cupboard and everything.
"I remember those times every time we go back to play against the Warriors, having to clean the muddy boots after training. Those were the days."
If he misses the Nines tournament Glenn's next trip back to New Zealand will be in Round 12 with the Broncos as they take on the Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium, a venue where Glenn has scored three tries to date.
Four if you count a memory from junior footy that he will never forget.
"I forget how old I was but I got to play at the Warriors half-time game at Mt Smart," Glenn said.
"That was definitely a highlight for me, playing on a stadium where I looked up to Stacey Jones and that, and actually scoring a try as well.
"It was massive for me and something that I'll never forget."