TAJ Annan ventured into the unknown when he packed up his life and accepted a scholarship at Brisbane Boys College.
It was a massive step for Merewether-Carlton junior.
"He was only 14 at the time and said 'Dad there's no way I can't do it'," his father and Merewether stalwart Garth Annan recalled. "The next morning he woke up and wanted to give it a go. Since then he has taken the opportunity by the scruff of the neck and had a crack."
Last week the powerfully-built 17-year-old back signed a three-year development contract with the Queensland Reds.
That followed helping steer Brisbane Boys College (BCC) to their first GPS title since 1954. Maitland winger Jarrod Homan was also in the first XV.
As well as rugby, Annan is an outstanding cricketer and earlier this year captained BBC to the GPS title - the first student in the school's history to win cricket and rugby GPS titles in the same year.
Annan has a year left at school and is home for the Christmas holidays.
"It has been a pretty big year," he said. "It's good to have a little break. I went to Greens training on Monday night to do a bit of extra training. Other than that, I have chilled at home and just been going up to the beach."
A centre of fly-half, Annan has been on the Reds' radar since he represented Queensland under-15s in his first season at BBC.
He has been a regular in the state age teams and has featured in the BBC first XV for the past two years.
Schoolboy football will again be the priority in 2021, but Annan will also work with the Reds at least one day a week.
"I was stoked to get the contract," Annan said. "It sets me up for a little bit. For the first year, while I am still at school, it is more about learning. I'll go in a day a week and they also want me to sit in with the senior squad for attack meetings and things like that."
Once Annan completes his schooling, he will join a full-time program.
His immediate goal is leading BBC to another GPS title and selection in the Queensland and Australian under-18 teams.
"They didn't run the Queensland 18s program this year due to COVID," he said. "There are plans next year for games in Victoria, NSW and Queensland. Hopefully I get a start there."
Annan, who stands 191cm and weighs 92 kilograms, played fullback for BCC but is more comfortable in a play-making role.
"I played 15 at school to give the backline more balance," he said. "I see myself as a 10 or a 12, more a ball-player. If I keep filling out it helps my running as well."
Apart from do some training with the Greens, Annan intends to play the odd game of cricket for Hamilton-Wickham.
A top-order bat and left-arm wrist-spinner, he played juniors with the Pumas but sees rugby as his future.
"I enjoy playing cricket," he said. "It gives me a bit of balance, so I'm not just all rugby."
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