Sport can bring some incredible highs, but never, ever, forget where you came from.

That’s what I kept thinking this week as again we prepare to take on the All Backs in the Bledisloe Cup.

My first taste of this intense rugby rivalry was just last year in Dunedin. It was an amazing, surreal experience.

I was in New Zealand for the captains run on the Friday – the game was on the Saturday – when Michael Cheika came towards me: “Mate, get your gear. You’re on the bench.”

It may have been a late call-up because of injuries, but my dream had come true. I was going to be a Wallaby.

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I recall the rush of emotions. It was crazy. I immediately began thinking about Mum and Dad at home, and the sacrifices they had made for me.

I thought about the number of times Mum would drive me to training, or drive me to a game. And it wasn’t just once or twice a week, Oh no!

When I was 12, 13, 14 years of age I was playing rugby league and rugby union. Mum used to pick me up after school … every day.

I had rugby training Monday and Wednesday afternoons and league training Tuesday and Thursday. And every training session was a half-hour drive. There and back.

Then, on the weekend, she’d take me to wherever I played rugby on a Friday and to the league game on the Saturday. Some of those games would be an hour away.

I was a pretty busy kid growing up. Loved my sport. And Mum just was always there for me, supporting me through it, making sure I had an opportunity to play both codes. She didn’t make me pick one. She just said: “Play both. Enjoy it while you’re young.”

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During this time Mum was also at uni full-time, studying to become a teacher. She would sit in the car studying while I trained. How she juggled everything I have no idea – mother of two, she worked, studied and ran me around to footy six days a week.

So, I didn’t have to look far for a role model. Hard work, discipline, time management – it was all there right in front of me – my mother. And of course she never complained. Not once can I remember even the slightest whinge about having to constantly be taking me somewhere.

For the last two years of my high school I received a scholarship to attend Ipswich Grammar, a prestigious rugby school west of Brisbane. The scholarship certainly helped, but we would have still been out of pocket up to $40,000.

Now, I am not from a rich family. It wasn’t as though we had that sort of money to spare. But Mum’s attitude was: “Stuff it! We’re doing it. It will be worth it one day.” That’s what she said to me and so off to Ipswich Grammar I went.

Back then, when I was 17, I knew how much I owed Mum. The sacrifices she made. I told her ‘thanks’. But I wanted to make it in rugby, for me and for her. That would be the best way of thanking her.

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In New Zealand I thought about how lucky I was to have the family I have and how much they had given so that I could be exactly where I was. I knew what I was achieving was partly theirs as well.

They invested so much into me and gave me everything to try and get me to this goal. I was just so thankful.

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My one regret was that they would not be there to share that special moment with me – my Test debut.

As I have said, we’re not wealthy and couldn’t afford last-minute flights.

But unbeknownst to me the Wallaby management had stepped in and bought flights and accommodation for Mum.

So you can imagine my surprise when I walked through the hotel lobby, about three hours out from the game, and there she was, sitting there, waiting for me. That meant so much to me.

A year later it still seems surreal. I am playing the game I love at international level and loving it. It took a lot of miles, but when you have a mum like mine behind the wheel … anything is possible.