Two years ago Lloyd Burns was a bricklayer playing semi-pro rugby for Cross Keys in the Principality Premiership, now he stands on the verge of representing Wales at the World Cup.
Burns, 26, has been selected as one of four hookers in Warren Gatland's preliminary 45-man World Cup squad.
Wales met at their Vale of Glamorgan base for the first time yesterday as they begin their preparations for the September tournament and Burns is hoping he can continue his rapid rise.
At the beginning of the season the former brickie was third choice hooker at Newport Gwent Dragons and on a dual-contract with the Keys. But after seizing his opportunity at Rodney Parade Burns has laid the foundations to fulfil a lifetime dream.
"At the beginning of the season I was at Cross Keys on a dual-contract with the Dragons," Burns told the Rugby Paper.
"I was third choice behind Tom (Willis) and Steve (Jones) while Duane Goodfield was out injured.
"I was just aiming to work hard with the Dragons in the week and play for Cross Keys on the weekends. I didn't expect to get much game time.
"It's been an unbelievable season and I never thought this would happen, it was always a long shot.
"On a personal level I've been quite fortunate that Tom and Steve have had injuries and I've taken the opportunity.
"I always thought I was capable of playing at a higher level I just didn't expect it to come so soon."
Burns made his Wales debut as a second-half replacement against the Barbarians to cap a truly memorable weekend.
On the Friday, just a day before the Baa-Baas clash, Burns was walking down the aisle as he married his partner of nine years Rachael.
"I trained up until Thursday and just had the Friday off for the wedding. But with the Baa-Baas game the next day I had to spend the night drinking pints of squash," added Burns.
"A few of the boys were trying to tempt me with a drink but the missus was happy that I wasn't so in a way it was a blessing in disguise.
"The game the next day was unbelievable, that's the reason why you play rugby. I get goose bumps just thinking about it.
"Ive been to the Millennium Stadium quite a few times to watch but I just can't explain what it was like to play there. Now I've had a taste I'm determined to be involved at the World Cup.
"I'll train hard to make sure I'm as fit as possible, keep on doing what I've done all season and play my own game."
Mr and Mrs Burns had to put off their honeymoon due to the Welsh call-up but the destructive hooker is more than happy to wait a little bit longer.
"We didn't book a honeymoon. With the rugby we were holding off to see what happened but we've managed to have a little break in Devon this weekend.
"It would mean everything for me to go to the World Cup. It's every player's dream to represent their country at the World Cup.
"It's a bit of a win-win situation for me. If I miss out, although disappointing, it means we can go on our honeymoon a bit sooner!"
Burns finds himself with plenty of competition for the No.2 jersey. As captain, Matthew Rees appears nailed on for a starting spot. But the Talywain-product hopes his work-rate around the pitch can prove a decisive factor.
"Richard Hibbard and Huw Bennett are qualities player. When you come to Wales there's real quality right through the set-up. Everything about it is so much more intense.
"But I feel I can do what a hooker needs to do and play like an extra back-row around the field.
"I always played in the back-row and only made the switch to hooker four seasons ago but it's definitely paid off. I wouldn't be where I am now if I hadn't.
"For me one of the best things you can do is to win turnovers, it's the best ball to play off.
"I also like to carry the ball. I want to come off the pitch feeling like I've been in a game."
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