Taranaki teenager Jensen Taumoepeau has put the comforts of home to one side as he chases his dream of cracking the NRL big time in Sydney.
Taumoepeau, 17, is part of the Cronulla Sharks junior reps system.
Based in the south Sydney suburb of Caringbah with a homestay family, Taumoepeau says the big move to Sydney from New Zealand without his family has been tough mentally.
"I always miss home, growing up with my brothers and mum and dad," said Taumoepeau.
"Leaving them is pretty hard and not seeing them every day.
"It gets pretty tough at times, when there is a hard training session and you want to come home to mum's cooking."
Taumoepeau was snapped up by the South Sydney Rabbitohs last year as a 15-year-old and played in the New South Wales under 16 Harold Matts competition.
This year he switched colours and played for the Sharks' under 18 SG Ball team that went down to the Parramatta Eels 30-22 in the NSW grand final at Leichhardt Oval in May.
The youngster has had a solid season for the Sharks, scoring a handful of tries on the left wing.
Taumoepeau attends Endeavour Sports High School in Sydney and is currently playing in the NRL GIO Schoolboy Cup competition.
He stays in regular contact with his parents Lisa and Valai in New Plymouth.
"I message mum everyday just see what everyone is up to. It makes me happy," he said.
"I know I can go to trainings knowing that I have talked to mum, dad and my brothers."
He is also a talented rugby union player and made the 1st XV at Francis Douglas Memorial College in New Plymouth last year, where he played in the centres and outside backs.
"I've still got a passion for rugby but league is my number one. I just enjoy being on the field and playing."
His father played four international Tests for Tonga in 1994-1995 as a flanker and lock.
Taumoepeau will return to New Zealand at the end of September for a tour of the country, playing for the NSW Combined High Schools under 17 rep team.