The career of St George Illawarra forward Leeson Ah Mau has come full circle, with the 28-year-old set to fulfil a lifelong ambition to play for the Kiwis in this weekend's Denver Test before next season's move home to New Zealand with the Warriors.
Ah Mau, who has been in career-best form for the Dragons, represented Samoa in 16 Tests but he grew up in Auckland dreaming of wearing a black jersey and is understood to have had discussions with New Zealand officials about playing for the Kiwis at last year's World Cup.
After being overlooked for the tournament, Ah Mau again played for Samoa and he had been resigned to never being selected for New Zealand until new coach Michael Maguire phoned him about the June 23 Test against England at Mile High Stadium.
"Madge called me a couple of weeks ago to kind of get a gauge of where I was at and he said that I was in the picture," Ah Mau told NRL.com.
"I was pretty shocked and at the same time pretty excited about representing New Zealand.
"I grew up in Auckland, and as a young kid it was definitely a dream to represent my country of birth. Mum and Dad were born in Samoa so in the past I have represented them but I am definitely honoured and grateful, and it is a dream come true to be here at the moment."
Ah Mau played for the Junior Kiwis in 2006 and 2007, while playing in the Intrust Super Premiership for the Warriors and he made his NRL debut for the club in 2009.
After two seasons with North Queensland and seven for St George Illawarra, Ah Mau will return to the Warriors in 2019 in a move that will enable him to be closer to his parents, Isaak and Vaaiga, and wife Rose's family.
In a sign of how much family means to the 110kg prop, NRL.com was told that there was little difference between the money the Warriors and Dragons offered him but he turned down a more lucrative offer from Newcastle.
For his part, Ah Mau said the three-year deal with the Warriors was yet to be confirmed but he is understood to have told St George Illawarra teammates he would be moving back to Auckland, where he played his junior football for the Otahuhu Leopards.
"I owe a lot to the Dragons. We have been doing pretty well this season so I guess that helps to get these little rewards because of what we are doing down at the Dragons," Ah Mau said.