Australian Schools centre Joey Walton has flipped the script on a well-worn code-crossing story, opting to put his energies into a future in rugby.
Walton, who went to Wadalba Community High School on the NSW Central Coast, was surrounded by league growing up but he couldn't shake a desire to pursue the 15-man game.
He followed his older brother into rugby with the local Warnervale Wildcats but most of his school friends playing rugby league, he was drawn into the code during high school.
Ultimately, though, rugby proved to be his true passion.
“When I was younger I played soccer up until I was 8 and then my brother played rugby and I just followed him,” he said.
“All my mates were playing league so they were always trying to get me to come over and play league, so I did when I was 16-17 but I liked rugby more."
Last year he was plucked from the coast to represent the Combined HIgh Schools team at the state championships.
His performances in that competition earned him a call-up for the NSW I side at nationals and that in turn won him a place in the Australian Schools Barbarians at just 16.
This year, Walton was part of the victorious NSW I team at the Australian Schools Championships and picked in the national squad.
The centre prides himself on hard work and says he models his game a lot on Wallabies flyhalf Bernard Foley, with a no-frills attitude.
“I like how he plays direct and he’s not fancy like the rest of them,” he said.
Walton is currently in Ireland with the Australian Schools and U18 side, who are facing off against a host of academy and underage international sides on their tour.
It's the first time the team has allowed players who are out of school but still U18 to be a part of the squad and Walton said that experience would be a helpful addition for the side.
“I reckon we will go real well, with the addition of the boys from out of school as well, a bit of change of scenery will be good,” he said.
“Everyone here has just been playing school boys against each other on weekends, where they’ve probably been playing against men."
Australia has played two matches so far on the tour, beating the Munster U19s 34-15 but going down to Ulster 22-17.
They face their first international team this weekend, with a clash against the Ireland U19s in Dublin, before heading to Scotland.
The Australian Schools and U18s take on the Ireland U19s on Saturday December 8, 2pm local, Sunday 1am AEDT.
Australia vs Ireland U19s, Saturday December 8, 2pm local, Sunday 1am AEDT.
Australia vs Scottish Schools selection, Wednesday December 12, 3:30pm local, Thursday 2:30am AEDT
Australia vs Scottish U17s, Sunday December 16, 1:30pm local, Sunday 12:30am AEDT