But for Aiden Tolman, who was 18 at the time, the excitement of pursuing his dream to become an NRL player outweighed the nerves which should come with such a drastic transition.
An NRL career had been at the forefront of Tolman’s mind for years but the odds were against the boy from a small country town.
Opportunities to be involved in rugby league programs, receive high quality coaching and be a part of a pathway to an NRL club are limited in the country.
However, the determination Tolman possessed and the support group around him, helped him defy the odds.
It was no secret Tolman had the ability to make it as a professional. He began earning representative honours at 13 and was picked for the Australian Schoolboys in Year 12.
The Smithtown Tigers junior made his way onto the Melbourne Storm radar and signed a scholarship with the club at 15.
Tolman travelled to Melbourne during Christmas holiday for training camps but unlike many aspiring NRL players from the country, Tolman had no ambition to leave for the city until he had completed high school.
Fortunately for Tolman, he had a great support network surrounding him when he returned to his country town.
“There are definitely obstacles when you live in a country area, the level of coaching and the opportunities available are less,” Tolman said.
“In saying that though, I had really good coaches growing up, some teachers at school who really helped me understand that the sport is also a profession.”
So there he was, two months after celebrating his 18th birthday, Tolman had packed his bags and moved out of home, after officially linking with the Storm.
The country boy, who spent his spare time fishing, surfing and playing the game he loves, travelled more than 1,300 kilometres with his wife-to-be to a city where they knew no one.
As daunting as that sounds, Tolman made a seamless transition.
The now 30-year-old has amassed 234 NRL games over an 11-year career which includes a premiership with the Storm in 2009 and two grand final appearances since joining the Bulldogs in 2011.
However, the prop could have easily been another talented player to slip through the cracks for remaining in the country.
The disparity in opportunities between kids who live in the city and country led to Tolman putting his hand up to be involved in the creation of a partnership with his NRL club, the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs, and the North Coast Country Rugby League.
“It’s a great opportunity to give back to the local area that I grew up in, I know what it’s like to grow up in this area and go on to play a professional sport. There are a lot of other kids from here that might be able to use my experience and take bits and pieces from it,” Tolman said.
Tolman’s personality and support made it possible for him to relocate to the city as a teenager but not all juniors can adjust to the city life, especially when away from their friends and family.
That is why the partnership is focused on keeping the aspiring NRL players at home for as long as possible.
“This isn’t about grabbing the 15-year-old boy and bringing them to Belmore,” Bulldogs CEO Andrew Hill said.
Despite spending more than a decade away from the Macleay, the father-of-three will always consider the region his home.