Wearing a Leicester Tigers jersey is the fulfilment of a boyhood dream for New Zealand-born Jono Kitto, and he insists he is focused on doing the shirt proud while he can in the coming weeks.
The 23-year-old started at scrum-half for the first time three weeks ago against London Irish, scoring his first try for the club after his summer move from Super Rugby's Chiefs' development team.
Since then he has gone from strength to strength for the Tigers – a side he has admired from afar since his school days after they were the top-ranked team alongside his beloved Crusaders on a 2008 video game.
Following a disappointing loss at Wasps last time out, Kitto is set to pull on the No.9 shirt for a fourth time against Saracens on Sunday, but despite Ben Youngs returning from international duty in the coming days, he is adamant his focus is not on keeping his place.
“I’m really excited to be playing, and just starting one game was massive for me but now having played three in a row I’m over the moon,” he said.
“It’s been a huge honour, and I’m learning a lot as I go. We’re all working hard every week to make sure we get more wins on the board.
“In terms of making a claim for the No.9 shirt; I’m honestly just going out there at the moment trying to do the jersey justice because of those players that have worn it before me.
“I want to do the scrum-halves proud that are at the club alongside me as well, and the boys next to me on the pitch.
“That’s my main motivation, rather than staking a claim to start the rest of the season. Whoever the coaches decide will wear the jersey the following week is down to them, so I just worry about my own game and make sure I do my job.”
This season is Kitto’s first taste of northern hemisphere rugby, and he admits the fast-paced and unpredictable nature of Aviva Premiership Rugby has taken him by surprise.
He said: “It’s impressive rugby here. There’s a bit of a stereotype developed over here that it’s cold and wet all the time and that affects the game here.
“I expected there to be a lot of kicking and set-piece battles, and some teams do play that way more than others, but overall that is certainly not the case.
“Last weekend for example against Wasps there were a load of tries scores, a lot of offloads, and both teams were really looking to throw the ball around from both halves.
“At the end of the day, Aviva Premiership Rugby is a hugely competitive competition, any team can topple anyone else, and it’s been a great challenge to be a part of so far.”