Durban - For Sharks prop Thomas du Toit, in school last year and now entrenched in the Cell C Sharks squad, the 2014 year hasn’t even finished yet and already his achievement has surpassed his wildest dreams.
As a self-confessed Sharks supporter, "from day one," he’s living his dream, reports Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick.
Last year he was in the SA Schools side, came to the Sharks Academy with a goal to play Super Rugby in a few years, and train accordingly.
He made his Super Rugby debut towards the latter stages of the competition this year, playing off the bench in his first appearance and then starting the final three matches, including the quarter-final and semi-final.
His outstanding form in the Vodacom Cup was also rewarded with a place in the South African Under 20 side that participated in the IRB Junior World Championship.
"I never thought in my wildest dreams things would turn out as they have this year," he admits.
"I had a five year plan to play Super Rugby, but that happened very quickly and I was very happy about that.
"I never wanted to play at the lower levels, but I was willing to accept playing there.
"But I have always trained to play above my grade, so although I was surprised to play at that level, it was always part of the plan to play there."
Next month he will feature for the Barbarians against Australia in what could be his introduction to playing rugby regularly on an international level.
And having watched and been inspired by the Springboks on the weekend, and his SA Under 20 team-mate Handré Pollard’s involvement, he admits that there are aspirations to play at the highest level, although he is willing to bide his time.
"Yes, it is a big aspiration of mine and is part of my five year plan.
"It’s every young man’s dream to play in the Green and Gold and I’m not going to stand back.
"I will give it my all to play there, and if it happens in two years or five years, I will be happy with either."
Amongst his role models are two Springboks, one of whom is still tutoring him.
"I looked up to Jannie du Plessis and Wiehahn Herbst, they were my idols," he explains.
"And obviously Os du Randt, a legend of Springbok rugby.
"The biggest influence for me has probably been Jannie du Plessis, and Wiehahn Herbst also helped me at the beginning of the year, but the whole squad is filled with influential players and that’s a massive asset for me."
The year started with Vodacom Cup rugby and his shares just flew through the roof, until he was a member of the senior squad, playing Super Rugby.
"The intensity of rugby, the way the game is played in Super Rugby, brings another level to the game; it’s unbelievably fast and hard and takes you to a level you’ve never played at before."
And now he’s a fully-fledged member of the Cell C Sharks Absa Currie Cup squad, also his first season at this level.
"It’s been very hard, very difficult, especially with the injury, but the atmosphere is great.
"I’m enjoying it, making a lot of friends, friends for life actually.
"Having experienced guys with you, just takes it to a whole new level."
So does this product of Paarl Boys High come from a rugby family?
“Actually not,” he admits with a big grin on his face. “
"My grandfather told me that no-one played representative rugby in our family.
"Although in his matric year, my father played wing for the third team – of three teams."
And the secret to his massive frame? He weighs in at a hefty 120kgs.
"Normally your mother tells you that if you finish your supper you can have pudding; well in my home, my mom would tell me that if I finished my supper I could get another plate of supper.
"That’s the secret – eating as much as you can, and then more."