Lions tour: All Black selection a dream come true for new cap Ngani Laumape
Ngani Laumape only had one dream when he started his professional sporting career - to play for the All Blacks.
The 24-year-old was selected in Steve Hansen's All Black squad to take on the Lions beginning June 24 in Auckland.
The former New Zealand Warriors centre admitting that even during his three-year stint with the NRL club, his heart lay with the 15-man code.
"Growing up in New Zealand everyone wants to be an All Black," said Laumape.
"When I was playing for the Warriors that was always in the back of my head and I also always wanted to be play for the Hurricanes. That was the drive that led me back to rugby.
"I haven't looked back since."
The Hurricanes midfielder said he has always believed that things happen for a reason, and when two All Black greats signalled their intentions to move overseas at the end of 2015, Laumape saw an opportunity to change career paths.
"I was always going to come back no matter what. Ma'a [Nonu] was leaving and so was Conrad [Smith] and I truly believed it was time."
After a stuttering season in 2016, Laumape has been a revelation for the Hurricanes in the defence of their Super Rugby crown, leading the try-scoring ranks alongside teammate Vince Aso.
Laumape said this season has been all about getting better week-by-week, but he is still in disbelief that he has made the national side.
"For me it was just getting to know the game a bit better, getting myself into situations where I know what to do. The [Hurricanes] coaching staff have been amazing, I always make sure I go and see them and talk about how to get better every week.
"All Blacks was always the number one goal. I knew I had processes to get there and for me it was all about performing well for the Hurricanes. I'm overwhelmed."
Laumape has one more game for the Hurricanes, against the Chiefs on Friday before heading into camp with the All Blacks next week.