ILISAVANI Jegesa dropped out of school when he was in Class Six. But this didn't stop him from exploring his full potential and utilising it to become successful in life.
The 24-year-old is one of the only two local-based players in the Vodafone Fiji Bati side for the Rugby League World Cup.
Tikiko Noke is the other.
Jegesa, who hails from Rakiraki, Yale in Kadavu, attended St Agnes Primary School.
"I dropped out of the school in Class Six and started training under the guidance of my grandfather Ilaitia Lalai, who was a well known 7s player," the Nabua Broncos centre said.
"I always wanted to play rugby professionally and my grandfather always told me 'you can achieve anything if you believe in it and work hard towards it'."
Inspired by those words, Jegesa took up the challenge and never looked back.
He came through the ranks to play in the Vodafone Cup — the premier Fiji National Rugby League competition.
"In 2008, I started playing rugby league for the Nabua Broncos development side then I switched back to union.
"My cousin Nemani Suguturaga, who was part of the 2008 world cup squad, encouraged me to continue playing rugby league because he said there was a lot of opportunity for me in league.
"I decided to give it a try and didn't know my patience and training would get me in the 2013 world cup team."
When everything was running smoothly for Jegesa, he suffered a major blow which almost ended his budding rugby league career.
"Last year, I broke my nose and my sinus gland had burst. I thought it was going to end my rugby career.
"I was too afraid to play rugby league again but my mum and dad kept pushing me. They said 'there were players in NRL who go through the same injuries but they come back'.
"I have a very supportive family and I thank God for the encouragement.
"I'm also thankful to coach Jo Rabele and Sonny Blake for encouraging me to trial for Fiji Bati team."
On Thursday night when his name was announced in the final team, Jegesa was overwhelmed with emotion and excitement of his new journey.
He knew his life has changed and his hard work and dedication has finally paid off.
People from the neighbourhood have been dropping by his house in Nabua to congratulate him and some overseas clubs have already started their chase to secure his services.
Jegesa is thankful to everyone who supported him through this journey.
"When my name was called up, I couldn't even stand. My friends sitting close to me said 'hey, your name just got called out'.
"I was excited. It's the dream of every Nabua kid to play for the country. For someone like me who grew up playing with plastic bottles, this is a dream come true."