THE red-headed Sonny Bill Williams has returned to our shores after a dream run in the Rugby League World Cup.
Former Port Macquarie resident, Matt Shipway, was selected to play for the United States on arguably the biggest league stage in the world.
While he was slogging it out on the footy field in the stars and stripes, unbeknownst to him, he was gathering a cult following in Port Macquarie.
His friend, Joe Cudmore, started the Facebook page "The red-headed Sonny Bill Williams".
Now, back home and back at work as a tiler, Shipway sees the funny side of it.
"I'm not even a red head, it's strawberry blonde," he joked. "The boys did it for a bit of a laugh."
The back rower said the highlight of his experience abroad was in his final game, when his US Tomahawks took on Australia.
He went as far to say his forward pack, at times during the game, matched Australia's.
"Our forwards handled them well and went toe-to-toe with them at times," he said. "But it was their outside backs that killed us. They were the same size as the forwards but so much quicker.
"I've never been more happier to be beaten by 60 odd points.
"Here we were, after the game, we got flogged, but we were all still smiling. There were so many highlights the whole time, it's hard to narrow down just a few.
"That first game we won in France was just massive as well."
Shipway admitted he found it strange to be standing in front of thousands of people singing the American national anthem.
"Not many of us knew the anthem, but we all soon learnt it," he said. "It was a strange feeling, it was sort of funny because when we started winning games, and our confidence was growing, we really got right into the patriotic side of things.
"It was a good feeling. We'd have these bus trips and all of a sudden we'd start singing the national anthem."
It wasn't all smooth sailing for him though, Shipway had to contend with a knee injury throughout the tournament.
"It's structurally alright, but I kept having to syringe fluid out of it," he said.
"It held up alright though. I have to go see a specialist about it soon."
Despite playing on the world's biggest stage, Shipway is adamant nerves were not a problem.
"I was more excited than anything," he said. "I might have been a little nervous when I first got over there, but as far as the games went, it was more excitement."