Hadleigh Parkes admits it is 'pretty surreal' to be part of Wales' World Cup campaign in Japan.
But when the action kicks off for Wales against Georgia in Toyota City on Monday, Parkes will run out as an established and pivotal figure in head coach Warren Gatland's plans.
It is less than two years since New Zealand-born centre Parkes made his Test debut.
Hadleigh Parkes (centre), Josh Navidi (left) and Justin Tipuric (right) are preparing for Wales' World Cup opener against Georgia on Monday
But he has grown impressively into his midfield role, featuring in 18 of Wales' last 22 Tests and scoring a try when they beat Ireland to be crowned Six Nations Grand Slam champions last March.
'It has been an intense three months, and you have always had that carrot at the end of the tunnel,' he said.
'Now you are actually here, you have got to pinch yourself that you are at a World Cup. You are in Japan - the first World Cup in Asia.
'To get a World Cup cap and medal, you go back to your room and kind of look at them for a little while.
'It has been a pretty awesome journey, a privileged and humbling journey I've been on the last couple of years, and it's one I have loved every moment of, and to be over here as part of this group is pretty surreal.'
Central to Parkes prospering at international level has been his midfield partnership with Jonathan Davies.
They transferred impressive work together for the Scarlets to Test rugby, and have rapidly become a combination that operates at a consistent, high-class level.
'I think we are pretty lucky that we get to play at regional level as well,' Parkes added.
''Foxy' (Davies) is one of those guys who has done extremely well on the world stage for a number of years, with the British and Irish Lions as well.
'He's a world-class player. Defensively, he's outstanding, and on attack he is a big boy as well.
Parkes says he got through the gruelling training camps by thinking about the World Cup
'We get on pretty well off the field - we have roomed together for most of the time over here. We have coffees, we go out for dinner and stuff like that.
'The more times you get to play together, the better it gets and the easier it gets as well.
'Having played with him a lot, you kind of know what he is going to do, a little bit. He reads the game very well. Hopefully, it will continue to go well over the next few weeks.'
Given the prowess of Georgia's forwards, it is hardly rocket science to imagine that Wales will look to adopt an expansive approach, although forecast heavy rain for Toyota on Monday might put a dampener on that.
'They are going to be very physical,' Parkes said. 'Most of their pack play in France, so they are pretty used to that Top 14 rugby.
'By all accounts, it sounds like there could be a typhoon coming in, but yes, we need to take it to them first and our forwards get into the game.
'If we are able to move them around a bit, then we will certainly try and do that.'
Parkes and his centre partner Jonathan Davies (right) have formed a superb combination