As a junior at Wests, Chad O'Donnell used to admire older player and future NRL representative Luke Walsh.
Last season, as chance would have it and despite being aged eight years apart, both returned to Harker Oval at different points and for a few Newcastle Rugby League games they lined up alongside each other in the same first grade team.
In 2019, O'Donnell and Walsh are now halves partners for the Rosellas.
"It's funny how it's all worked out," Shortland-based 23-year-old O'Donnell said.
"As a kid I looked up to Walshy. Then we both ended up back playing at Wests at the same time. Now we're in the halves together."
O'Donnell has earned first crack at Wests' No.6 jersey this campaign.
It came on the back of a full pre-season with the club, having joined from Penrith midway through 2018, and trial form highlighted by a man-of-the-match performance for the Newcastle All Stars at No.2 Sportsground last month.
Having last year bounced around to "cover a few positions", including hooker, O'Donnell said he was enjoying a bit of stability.
"It's nice to keep the focus in one area," he said.
"And having Walshy there helps take a lot of pressure off and lets me play my game."
The faith of Rosellas coach Matt Lantry was repaid in Sunday's season opener, describing the five-eighth's display as "absolutely enormous".
O'Donnell helped to spearhead a 46-6 win over Lakes at Cahill Oval in what was Wests' first outing since ending a 39-year long streak of making semi-finals.
When he scored a try in the 32nd minute, Sam Keenan's ensuing conversion took the visitors out to a 40-6 lead before half-time.
"We got out to a quick start," O'Donnell said.
"All in all it was a pretty good performance. The only disappointing thing was we didn't keep it going in the second half."
O'Donnell left the Hunter region around six years ago, bound for the state capital.
He spent time at the Sydney Roosters playing Harold Matthews before winning an SG Ball (under 18s) title.
Then, outside a Commonwealth Games rugby league exhibition in Glasgow in 2014, there was under 20s for South Sydney and NSW Cup for North Sydney.
Finally a shift to the foot of the Blue Mountains with the Panthers and after training with the full-time squad over 2017-18, but missing the top grade, opted to return home.
O'Donnell hasn't given up entirely on his NRL dream.
"I've still got the fire to make the NRL one day," he said.
"But for now I'm just happy enjoying playing the game again. If an opportunity arises down the track that would be great."
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.