TWO years ago, Jarryd Hayne knew nothing about Fijian culture.
Now his right calf is covered in a huge tattoo devoted to the Pacific Island's national rugby league team. Now he's made four trips back to meet family and locals that he counts as lifelong mates.
Now he's in talks to front Fiji's next tourism campaign.
And now you're about to see Jarryd Hayne - and his fellow NRL warriors - as you've never seen them before.
In a drive to raise awareness of their traditional cultures, 12 of rugby league's biggest identities have donated their names and frames to a special calendar that showcases costumes from their homelands.
For two days this week a photo studio in Alexandria was converted into an unlikely meeting place between the players - including Hayne, Fuifui Moimoi, Roy Asotasi, Petero Civoniceva and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves - and decorative artefacts from across the Pacific.
The calendar project is part of an upcoming cultural festival, Body Pacifica, which will be hosted at the Casula Powerhouse in Sydney's southwest from June 25-27.
Powerhouse curator Leo Tanoi, who had a playing stint with Cronulla during the 1990s, devised the idea of using the NRL's growing pool of Pacific Islander stars to help promote the festival.
It was brainstormed during a chance meeting with NRL welfare officer Nigel Vagana - who has driven programs for Polynesian players to re-embrace their roots since retiring in 2008 - at a wedding two months ago.
"It actually came about at David Peachey's wedding and I was the DJ," Tanoi revealed.
"I was talking to Nige about possibilities for the festival, and the desire for the community to re-connect with its culture. A lot of Nige's work at the NRL is about setting up cultural programs so it seemed like a match made in heaven that we use players to represent each region, because they are role models and people recognise them."
But no one expected such an overwhelming response. Yesterday, Civoniceva raced 50km from his re-signing announcement at the foot of the mountains to be adorned.
On Tuesday, Waerea-Hargreaves rushed from a Sydney Roosters recovery session to be photographed and even returned for an encore session later that afternoon with his own Maori props.
The remaining necklaces, grass skirts, head-dresses and weapons were all donated by a private collector, Todd Barlin, who displays more than 1000 cultural artefacts in his Paddington gallery.
"A lot of the artefacts are from Papua New Guinea, because I lived there," Barlin said. "The players just chose which items they liked, so it's a bit of a mix."
Vagana said the calendar's first print run would produce 5000 copies - with all funds to go back to the community.
"I didn't want something that was corny, with blokes sliding down a pole," he said. "We wanted something that was authentic and showed how proud the boys were of their individual heritage."
Hayne added: "[Before I played for Fiji in the 2008 World Cup] I didn't know anything about my culture.
"It's good to do things like this to make people more aware.
"Hopefully it will get the lads off the streets and into sport."