TOKYO, 27 Oct - As a footballer who modelled himself on the former Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane, Aaron Wainwright could have been appearing in another crunch Welsh sporting fixture on Sunday.
Swansea City host Cardiff City in what is always a fiercely contested local derby, in the Championship. Instead, a couple of hours earlier he will be running out in the rugby red of Wales for a World Cup semi-final against South Africa in Yokohama.
The flanker spent most of his teenage years playing football before making the switch at 17.
"I was more of a Roy Keane type," he said. "I loved to get stuck in, protecting the back four, doing the hard work, passing to the blokes who were more skilful than me.
"I was at Cardiff's academy from 10 to 16, but when it came to contracts and signing scholarships I got dropped. I went to Newport County and got offered another scholarship, turned that down and went to rugby then.
"Things have worked out pretty well. I guess it could have been different but I'm happy with the way things worked out and I'm enjoying my rugby."
Wainwright, still only 22, starting playing at Whiteheads RFC in Gwent - where he now helps out with coaching - before being spotted by the Dragons, who placed him at Cardiff Met University.
One of the first tasks was to add bulk to the trimmer football frame - something Wainwright was going to need for the demands of playing in the local leagues in south Wales.
"When I started playing rugby I was 84-85kg, and by the time I’d finished my first year, I was up to about 104kg. I was eating as much as I could, to put on muscle.
"The set-up at Cardiff Met was awesome. We played BUCS (British Universities Championship) on a Wednesday and the local championship was on a Saturday.
"The away days on a Saturday you weren’t getting as excited about, because you were being beaten up by big men at places like Narberth and Glynneath. And you’re up to your knees in mud.
"If someone had told me then I'd get man of the match in a World Cup quarter-final and be playing in a semi-final, I would have laughed.
"I’m still very friendly with a lot of the boys at Cardiff Met and they can’t believe how far I’ve come. A lot of them have wanted to come over, but with student loans (that makes it impossible). I can’t wait to get back and watch them playing on a Wednesday night."
Wainwright made his Dragons debut only two years ago, while preparing for a coaching demonstration at university.
🚨 Team announcement 🚨— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) October 25, 2019
Here is the @WelshRugbyUnion team to face @Springboks in the semi-final at #RWC2019. What do you make of this team?
Find out where you can watch at https://t.co/z0BgdPYBjN#WALvRSA #WebbEllisCup #RWCYokohama pic.twitter.com/5shhhSkWUb
His Wales debut followed last year, but already he has racked up 17 caps and showed the explosive pace that head coach Warren Gatland had spotted with the scorching run from 48m for a crucial try against France in the quarter-finals.
"I don’t really remember running in. I just remember picking the ball up and running straight for the try-line.
"The serious side of it, I guess, started when I was at Cardiff Met and I had a phone call to say I was going to be on the bench for the Dragons. I made my debut the following week.
"That was a massive step for me, going from university rugby to professional rugby at a side that was in the Pro14. Playing that year, and getting the call for Wales's summer tour last year - those two jumps were massive for me.
"That's when I realised it was going to be a lot more serious than when I first started out. I'm enjoying, it which is the main thing, and just looking to progress.
"It would be huge if we got into the final of the World Cup. We’ve been on a great journey the last 18 months to two years, so we’ve been building into this very nicely.
"We haven’t performed as well as we’d have liked in the past two or three games, which is exciting because we know if we go into this game and play as well as we can, who knows what the result will be."
And will he be watching the other big game in Wales on Sunday?
"I'm not too sure how the time difference works out. I don't follow it too much any more."