WHEN CONNOR Vest left Grafton for the "Big Smoke" last year, he was already one of the brightest rugby prospects to come out of the Jacaranda City.
A freshly-minted Grafton High School graduate at the time, Vest was regularly one of the best for the Grafton Redmen.
He signed a contract with Shute Shield team Norths and joined the club at the end of 2012, with a greenskeeping apprenticeship lined up to more importantly earn a qualification that can help set up for life after football. Any talk of what will come in Vest's life after football will be on hold for some time however, after the 19-year-old had a dream debut season.
"I wouldn't complain about it that's for sure," Vest said.
How could he?
The second-rower finished the year with 10 tries for the first grade colts team which included two doubles.
He also scooped up three major awards at the club's recent presentation night.
He was named best and fairest in his first grade colts team.
He won the overall best and fairest award in the club, which fields three colts and four senior teams.
Bigger than any of these awards was his being named in the Norths Super Team, which is a team made up of the players who "performed the best in their positions" across all grades.
Not bad for a debut season after what can only be described as a huge life change.
"When I first moved down I found it pretty tough," Vest admitted.
"As the season went on it didn't faze me as much though. You get used to it.
"I hope to get home for Christmas but I'll have to see how everything with work and footy are first."
Every player in any sport has a game they remember as their best and one they can't forget as their worst, and Vest is no different.
His best came in an away game against West Harbour Pirates.
Norths sneaked away with a win in the high-scoring game, but it was not only the result, or his two tries, that stick with him.
"Even my coach says it was my best," Vest said.
"I've never handled the ball as much as I did in that game."
Vest would prefer to forget his worst game of the year against Randwick, but a neck injury is a daily reminder.
He was supposed to have three weeks off to help the injury heal, but the tough Grafton lad was on the paddock the next week.
It's a tough move he now regrets.
"I probably should've had that time off," Vest said.
"It was more of a muscle strain than anything and it did crack a bit. They wanted me to stay in bed and not move for a few weeks but I had to work.
"I have to crack my neck every morning and it becomes painful to move if I don't.
"They have tried to fix it but there's not much they can do other than give it time to heal itself."
At risk of shattering the tough perception of the young forward, Vest had special words of thanks for mum Kathleen Winner and girlfriend Brooke Downes.
"I couldn't do it without all of their support," Vest said.
"My Nan and my Pop as well. They've all been so helpful."