Such is the level of his rugby obsession, as Conor Carey approached the door of the Worcester Warriors changing rooms for the first time last summer, he already knew the names and faces of each and every person on the other side.
The only reason for a moment's pause, he figured, was that after three years back in Ireland with Connacht, many wouldn't yet know him.
While the first day in any new job, especially one in a new and unfamiliar city, is daunting, there were at least two of the squad at Sixways to whom he would need no introduction.
Just as when he first walked into Ulster training a few months before he'd even sat his A-Levels back in the spring of 2010, he would be greeted by two of his oldest friends - Michael Heaney and Niall Annett.
Then, his one-time Methodist College team-mates had been there to show him the ropes at Ravenhill and now they were to do the same at Worcester, a ready-made support network that would seem all the more valuable when, just a few months on from his debut, the tight-head prop tore his ACL against Saracens.
Back when such face-to-face contact was permitted, Carey became a regular for dinner at both the Annetts and the Heaneys, presented with tupperware boxes on days when he was absent.
Faced with the prospect of a lengthy rehab just as he was settling in, the ease of chat with old school-mates provided a tonic in troubling times.
In childhood, they'd dreamed of becoming pro rugby players at the same club. That it was to take a decade from leaving school, and occur at Worcester rather than Ulster, is a twist none would have predicted. When it didn't work out as hoped at home, it was, essentially, the first bump in the road they'd suffered since their first days together on the paddock at Pirrie Park.
Carey, a year below the other pair, had come into the Methody team as a fifth year when injury struck the side's first-choice prop midway through a Schools' Cup semi-final. The subsequent St Patrick's Day showpiece would be the occasion for just his second ever start, himself and Paddy Jackson the only fifth years on the run-on side. Nicky Wells' team blew away Regent House that day but, despite losing the likes of Adam Macklin, it was the second leg of their back-to-back titles that would go down in lore.
That was a good Inst team but, even then, I still thought there was no way they were going to get close to us. Then that all changes pretty quickly.
The next year's squad - dubbed 'The Dream Team' - would go through the entire year unbeaten, blanking old rivals RBAI 16-0 in the final with a team where seven would go on to earn a place in the Ulster system. Now retired Ulster and Edinburgh wing Mike Allen was the undoubted star, while Jackson and Craig Gilroy would both play for Ireland before too long.
"Yeah, it wasn't the most difficult team to captain. I just had to focus on my own game and keep him out of The Sphinx," laughs Annett, nodding his head towards Carey's quadrant of the Zoom call. "Early on in that year, it was pretty evident that we had a good team."
From arguably the most dominant season from any Ulster school in recent memory, the transition to the next step proved something of a culture shock.
"I found it really weird going to play Ulster Schools," says Carey who, after growing up playing GAA, caught the rugby bug when watching his brother on the Methody firsts, a team that also contained a pair of Annett's older brothers.
"I remember we played Leinster and got beaten by maybe 40 points. I was sitting there and I'd lost one game in the last three years, it was alien to me. It was shocking.
"People said we had an arrogance, but the idea that was ingrained in us was to be the best that we could be and everyone bought into it.
"I genuinely believed that we were going to win every game. I never thought that anyone was ever going to beat us. Even that final (in 2009), that was a good Inst team and obviously there's the rivalry but, even then, I still just thought that there was no way that they were going to get close to us. Then that all changes pretty quickly."
Heaney remembers a similar experience.
"Honestly, there are semi-pro teams and almost professional teams in the Championship that train less and aren't as well prepared as we were back at school," he says. "There was an expectation on us to always win but it never felt like pressure because it never felt like we were going to lose.
"I found it quite weird, then, going and playing club rugby and having to adjust to the fact that you weren't going to win all the time. We (Belfast Harlequins) would be in the AIL, and you'd be playing nuggety teams down south, losing without having really made your mark on the game and being properly gutted.
"Other guys who had been playing there for years already understood that you didn't win every game. They'd get showered, have a pint and get up the road back home.
"I was still sitting there thinking 'is nobody going to say anything, we just lost, why are people smiling 40 minutes after?'
"Then you'd be in training, going against the Ulster team as a Ravens XV and Stevie Ferris would burst through the midfield and none of us could lay a finger on him. I remember thinking then, if he's a back-rower who can do that, we've a long way to go."
Such were the realities for the trio, all of whom would represent Ireland at under-20s level with Annett doing so as captain, as they fitted into a new pecking order.
A hooker, a scrum-half and a tight-head when the province's starters were Rory Best, Ruan Pienaar and BJ Botha followed by John Afoa, the schoolboy stand-outs were now sitting behind world class operators, the balance between learning and on-field development tricky.
"It's very easy to sit and watch those people up to a point but then there's a decision to be made," says Annett.
"What you saw with the three of us is we made the decision to go in order to do what we love which is play rugby."
Carey interjects to joke that, in his case, the decision wasn't really his own what with no contract offer forthcoming from Ulster as Annett continues without missing a beat.
"The opportunity to learn from Besty as an 18-year-old," he says, "I took a huge amount from him and probably more from Nigel Brady and Andy Kyriacou because they were just that little bit more available what with Besty being away (with Ireland) so much. Then when he would come back, I'd just watch him and learn.
"And that's fine until you reach a point where you feel yourself starting to plateau.
"The dream was always to play for Ulster but I think what you've seen with all of us is three people who were willing to adapt."
By the time they departed, Heaney and Annett had combined for just shy of a half century of outings for Ulster while Carey never saw the field, sitting on the bench once in a win against Glasgow but denied his debut by then-head coach Mark Anscombe's usual aversion to relying on his replacements unless it was strictly necessary.
When he signed me, he told me that 'someone whose opinion I respect recommended you.'
Their departures took them to various far-flung corners of England, Annett going straight to Worcester back when they were still in the second tier in 2014, while Heaney headed for Doncaster and Carey to Ealing.
The Championship can be a notoriously rough ride for the young aspiring professional but all three cite it as a required proving ground in their development. Annett recalls "getting my head kicked in by these 30-year-old mutants from all over England" and surviving as the key to regaining the confidence he lost after not making the breakthrough at his home province while getting through a shaky start - "I got dished up seven weeks straight," he grimaces - convinced Carey to keep plugging away, switching to Nottingham once Ealing were relegated.
It was Annett who enjoyed the most initial success, helping secure Worcester's promotion in his first season, scoring a crucial try in Worcester's unforgettable 59-58 aggregate play-off win over Bristol. Now at the club six years, his now-wife Claire soon joined him, the pair putting down some roots when buying their first house two years in.
Heaney would arrive in 2018 and Carey a year later. Far from the only ones with ties to Kingspan Stadium at Worcester, Ulster centurion Callum Black is a regular too, while Caleb Montgomery signed up at the same time as Carey, six months after winning his one and only Ulster cap under Dan McFarland in a festive interpro against Leinster.
Perhaps the influx should come as no surprise; after all, Director of Rugby Alan Solomons is no stranger to Ulster himself.
"It's funny with Solly," says Heaney of the man who guided Ulster to the Celtic Cup and second place in the league back in 2004. "When he signed me, he told me that 'someone whose opinion I respect recommended you.' He'd never tell you who it was but I think there's a part of it that he thinks he knows what he's getting when he signs an Ulsterman and hopefully we've lived up to that."
While the Ulster connection has been good for the club, the club has no doubt been good for them too. When Annett looks back on rupturing his ACL two weeks before his father would pass away from cancer, the contract extension offered to him shortly after sticks in his mind as a real show of faith while Heaney, father to a young daughter, has relished the security that the first two-year deal he's had during his time in England has given him and wife Katie.
"It's a great club," says Annett. "Thinking back to when my old man got sick and I got injured, that was a pretty dark time but they really stuck by me and it's that sort of place.
"I think about it quite often, how strange it is that the three of us ended up here. Even the night before we played the first game all together again against Exeter earlier in the season, I remember saying to Claire about how long it had been, probably since some Ravens game when we were all in the Academy, and now we're here. We do hang out a lot but that's what you want, something that reminds you of home here because, ultimately what we've built is home to us now."
Home is a word that can mean many things. Where you're from of course, but also where you've come to be, where you've been embraced or where you feel valued. Sometimes, it need be nothing more than where your friends are.