Ben Gunter is ready to charge into 2020 after what he has reflected on as a "massive" 2019.
The former Gunnedah native and his Panasonic Wild Knights begin their quest for Japanese Top League glory against the Kubota Spears on Sunday (Japanese time).
The Wild Knights have been bolstered by some star signings, including Canberra Raiders back Jordan Rapana, All Blacks second rower Sam Whitelock, Springbok Damian de Allende and Wallabies star David Pocock.
The latter has had a big influence on Gunter and in moulding the backrower into the player he is today, and he is understandably excited to have him back.
"Poey adds a whole new dimension to the team," he said.
"As a kid, I would watch him on the television and now I play alongside of him; that's incredible."
Whitelock has also been "a massive asset to earn off".
"It's fun picking away at his mind, always asking questions, watching a review then asking what he thinks or how he looks at it," he said.
"It's a great learning experience for me."
"The same with Damian (de Allende): he's teaching us how to read a game better and look for certain cues that can put us in a better position for the next few plays."
"The plus side of Damian is he sets you up for the gaps in defence and makes it look so easy."
The centre was part of the World Cup-winning South African side, the Springboks becoming only the second team to win the Webb Ellis Cup three times with their 32-12 defeat of England.Gunter was "lucky enough" to be in Japan for the tournament and said there was a "buzz ... all around us".
"A highlight was definitely watching the Blossoms making history [it was the first time Japan has reached the quarter-finals]," he said.
"It was a credit to the boys for making it through the pool games undefeated."
Part of the extended World Cup squad, he - frustratingly - missed out on qualifying to represent Japan by only a couple of days.
"I would have proudly pulled on the jumper for Japan, but it just wasn't my time," he said.
The country's first time hosting the sport's showpiece event, he said the flow-on effect had been huge. Two months on the sport is still attracting massive interest.
"We had a pre-season camp down near the bottom of Japan in what felt like in the middle of nowhere and we had 600-plus people come just to watch us train.
"They were there every day, some even stayed all day," Gunter said.
"Our first three games of Top League are already sold out; it's amazing."
Reflecting on 2019, Gunter said he was fortunate to have met some incredible people and see parts of the world he never thought he would. He also got to realise his dream of playing Super Rugby, making his debut for the Sunwolves against the Queensland Reds.
Getting to not only meet some of the best footy players in the world but play with and against them was a big highlight for the former Red Devils junior.
Because the Top League season runs at the same time as the Super Rugby competition - the World Cup interrupted the normal season last year - Gunter won't be pulling on the Sunwolves jersey again this season.
As for goals for 2020, he really only has one on the field: to win the Top League.
Off the field he spoke about wanting to get better at Japanese and trying and see his nephews and nieces more.
His eldest sister Lisa as two boys, Karina, his middle sister a girl and a boy, and his youngest Alana a boy and a girl.
"They are growing up so fast," he said.
They are spread around the country with Lisa in Brisbane, Karina Nelson Bay and Alana Forster.