Jason Robinson - like many others in rugby league circles - used to call union the "kick-and-clap" game, and the people who played it "rah-rahs".
But four years after crossing the divide and bringing his own dazzling talent to the 15-man code, "Billy Whizz" now finds himself captain of England.
THE ROBINSON FILE
Born: 30 July '74, Leeds
Height: 5 ft 8ins
Weight: 13st 4lbs
England: 19 tries in 33 Tests
Lions: 3 caps, 2 tries
It has been a remarkable journey, and one that shows no sign of stopping.
A superstar in rugby league, Robinson has achieved the same status in union in double-quick time.
Plenty questioned Sir Clive Woodward's wisdom in persuading the Rugby Football Union to fork out for half of Robinson's £1m Sale contract in 2000.
That now appears small change given Robinson's contribution to England's success, culminating in his try in the World Cup final victory over Australia.
No wonder the player considers himself "blessed", for this latest honour completes his transformation from rugby league wild child to ultimate union professional.
Robinson grew up in the working-class suburbs of south Leeds and left school with no qualifications.
He never knew his Jamaican father, and regularly saw his Scottish mother beaten by his stepfather.
But after starting to play rugby league with Hunslet Boys Club, where he had his only other captaincy experience prior to this season with the under-10s, he joined Wigan as a 16-year-old.
A year on he turned professional, but in the next four years, Robinson admits he "went wild".
The teenage wing with money to burn would think nothing of going out six nights a week, downing beer and vodka at an alarming rate.
"The world started and ended with me - Jason Robinson, rugby player with a flash car and money to impress," he recalled in his autobiography.
Robinson is a devoted family man
Robinson was so "out of control" that after splitting up with his girlfriend Amanda, who later became his wife, he contemplated suicide.
But despite his high-roller lifestyle, his on-field accomplishments were never in doubt.
In all Robinson scored a remarkable 184 tries in 302 games for Wigan, and in six successive Tests during his 12 caps for Great Britain.
It was the former All Blacks centre "Inga" Tuigamala, a Wigan team-mate, who showed Robinson another way of life, and helped him embrace Christianity.
He got back together with his girlfriend, gave up the heavy drinking, and now restricts himself to the odd glass of wine.
Nowadays he is a devout family man, spending all his time away from rugby with
Amanda and four children aged 10 and under, one from a previous relationship.
One thing that has not changed, however, is Robinson's rugby-playing ability.
After a four-month spell with Bath in 1996, he left league for good in 2000 and made his Sale debut on 5 November in a Cup tie against Coventry.
Within three months he was in the England squad, coming on three times as a replacement in the 2001 Six Nations Championship.
Robinson scored 10 tries on the Lions tour
Such was his impact that he made the Lions tour to Australia that summer, scoring five tries on his first outing against a Queensland President's XV.
A couple of minutes into the first Test in Brisbane, he left Wallabies full-back Chris Latham for dead with a devastating shimmy for a sensational try.
He has continued to mesmerise opposition defences and spectators alike ever since.
After two tries in a Six Nations win over Scotland in 2002, one observer commented: "In darker days Jason Robinson found God. But that was after God found Jason Robinson."
His counter-attacking brilliance has brought 19 tries in 33 Tests, and Grand Slam and World Cup glory.
Robinson admits he did not enjoy the attendant hype that followed in the months afterwards, and wanted to "run away".
But after his first summer off in 12 years, missing the tour down under, he has returned refreshed and as good as ever.
Now - in the absence of the injured Jonny Wilkinson - it falls to rugby league's most successful convert to lead England's union boys into a new era.