TOYOTA, 23 Sep - Hadleigh Parkes describes his journey from the family sheep farm in New Zealand to playing at a Rugby World Cup with Wales as "surreal".
The centre only qualified two years ago by meeting the three-year residency requirement after quitting his home in Hunterville to join the Scarlets.
But after scoring two tries on his debut against South Africa in December 2017, Parkes has become a key figure in coach Warren Gatland’s side, playing in 18 of the past 22 matches.
"It was emotional to get that cap and the medal. You go back to your room and kind of look at it for a little while," said Parkes of the capping ceremony in Japan.
"It has been a pretty awesome journey, a privileged and humbling journey I've been on the last couple of years. It's one I have loved every moment of, and to be over here as part of this group is pretty surreal.
"It has been an intense three months and you have always have that carrot. Now you are actually here, you have to pinch yourself that you are at a World Cup and you are in Japan - the first one in Asia."
Parkes will line up alongside fellow centre and Scarlets team-mate Jonathan Davies for the 11th time in their opening Pool D game against Georgia at the City of Toyota Stadium on Monday.
No other current centre pairing in international rugby has played together as often, so no wonder the 31-year-old describes his relationship with Davies, nicknamed Fox, as telepathic.
"I think we are pretty lucky that we get to play at regional level as well. Foxy is one of those guys who has done extremely well on the world stage for a number of years - with the Lions as well," added Parkes, pictured above earlier this month.
"It can be telepathic. Having played with him a lot, you kind of know what he is going to do. He reads the game very well. Hopefully it will continue to go well over the next few weeks.
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team to face @GeorgianRugby
in Pool D on Monday, at 19.15 (GMT+9). What do you make of this time? #WALvGEO #RWC2019 #RWCCityOfToyota
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"He's a world-class player. Defensively, he's outstanding, and on attack he is a big boy as well. The more times you get to play together, the better and easier it gets.
"If you get on well off the field as well, it makes it a lot easier to go out there and to have each other's back on the field."
With rain in the air in the region, Parkes believes Wales will need to weather an onslaught from the powerful Georgians. "We need to take it to them first and get our forwards into the game. If we are able to move them around a bit, then we will certainly try and do that.
"It's about getting our tournament off to a good start against what is a good, physical Georgia side and getting on the front foot."