Five years ago, Len Ikitau made the decision to leave family and friends behind in Brisbane to pursue his rugby dreams, with no guarantees he would make them come true.
After finishing at Brisbane Boys College, having starred at the schoolboy level, Ikitau didn't have a pathway to the professional game, nothing.
Happily, he did have a friend in Canberra, his schoolmate, who was just starting his Brumbies journey having made the move from Brisbane and who knew how special Ikitau could be; Darcy Swain.
“At the end of 2016 I didn’t really have any opportunities, and I hit Darcy up to see if there was anything down here, he mentioned Tuggies (Vikings) were looking for a centre”, Ikitau said.
“He helped me move down here, I lived with him for a couple of years. I’m very happy to have Darcy as a good mate down here”.
In Canberra, wearing Viking Red, Ikitau's profile was growing. The pair played together for the Brumbies U20 side, then for the Junior Wallabies while continuing to cut their teeth at club level in Tuggeranong colours, winning a premiership together in 2018.
But Swain had a contract, Ikitau didn't. At times Ikitau wanted to quit, labouring by day and training with the Brumbies academy at night. Swain refused to let him pack his bags for Brisbane, again steadfast in his belief that Ikitau was destined to be a Brumby.
“I always knew he was born for this," Swain said.
"You’ve seen his first two games he has killed it.
"There’s no doubt he belongs, he has owned that 13 jersey and I know he is destined for bigger things.
"Not just in the Brumbies jersey but one day in the green and gold”, said Swain.
In 2019, Ikitau would finally take to GIO Stadium as a Brumby, injury cover for Tevita Kuridrani. Now, the 22-year-old has played all 160 minutes in 2021 in the 13 jersey after being called up to Dave Rennie's Wallabies squad at the end of 2020.
Swain's belief, Ikitau's resolve, the results are clear to see on the field and this Saturday the Brumbies will be back in action taking on the Melbourne Rebels at GIO Stadium.