Rookie Joe Burgess celebrated his 20th birthday on the flight to Australia and is hoping to return to England next month as a fully-fledged international.
The Wigan winger, who landed with the England squad in Brisbane on Wednesday night, has enjoyed a memorable first full season in Super League and is hoping to cap it by making his Test debut in the Four Nations opener against Samoa on Saturday week.
Burgess, who scored his 25th try of the year to open the scoring in last Saturday's Grand Final defeat by St Helens, admits he has to keep pinching himself to make sure 2014 has not been one long dream.
"I record every game and I keep watching them back thinking 'this can't be me' or 'it can't be real'," he said. "But I have enjoyed it. It's sad that we finished with a loss at the weekend but I'm happy with what I've done this year.
"I'm happy to get more than 10 games and to come this far and play in a Grand Final, it has made my family and friends and coaches very proud."
Burgess caught the eye in Australia back in February playing for the Warriors in the World Club Challenge against Sydney Roosters, where England coach Steve McNamara is on the backroom staff, and he is now being linked with a move to the 2013 NRL champions when his Wigan contract expires in 2016.
He had been on McNamara's radar since going on the England academy tour to Australia two years ago and both men reckon that experience will stand him in good stead going into the Four Nations Series.
"I remember watching Joe when he came on an Under-18s tour," McNamara said. "It didn't all go his way - he played in one Test and got left out of the second one.
"He saw what it was all about. and he worked extremely hard and fought his way into Wigan's first team.
"He got an injury in mid-season but the form he showed at the back end of the season forced our hand. He stood out against the best teams in the play-offs and he had to be picked."
Burgess, who has adequately plugged the gap at Wigan created by the departure of Australian winger Pat Richards, says his previous tour will be useful.
"It is an experience and I'll use it to my advantage," he said. "Hopefully I can get in the team. If I do get a chance, I'll take it."
Burgess needs to get past either his Wigan team-mate Josh Charnley or the even more experienced Ryan Hall if he is to win his first cap but McNamara would not put it past him.
"His progression has probably a bit quicker than I would have expected, maybe 12 or 18 months quicker," McNamara said. "But, whilst ever he is improving at this rate, who knows where it will stop?"