It's a curveball moment for Matt Sexton when he is reminded that it is nearly two decades since he began his time at Ulster.
All quite a while ago now and though considerable time has elapsed since the New Zealander filled the province's No.2 jersey for three seasons, Sexton is still regarded as being in the vanguard of quality overseas players to put in pitch-time here.
Not bad considering that the former Canterbury Crusaders hooker came to Belfast in 2001 at the back-end of a 10-year playing career which had seen him turning out close to 130 times for his South Island home club.
But the then 31-year-old didn't relocate wife Cate and his young family to the northern hemisphere simply to see out time.
What Ulster got was all the uncompromising power and ferocity which had been so highly visible with the Crusaders and had brought the strong-scrummaging hooker three Super Rugby titles and some notable domestic successes.
"I've really fond memories of the three years spent at Ulster," the now 50-year-old says from his home in Wellington, where he works as a high-performance player development manager at New Zealand Rugby.
"Back then I had anticipated just hanging up the boots and hadn't reckoned on overseas opportunities.
"But the offer came and what really sold it for me was when I talked to the then Ulster coach Alan Solomons about coming over to do well for an ambitious club and helping the squad that he was building for the future.
"Actually, we had Thomas, our second son, in Belfast. He's 17 now and is very proud of the fact that he was born in Northern Ireland.
"I also got to carry our eldest son, Jack (now a 19-year-old who has represented New Zealand Schools), out on my last game at Ravenhill.
"I recently came across that photo, though there is obviously no way he can now fit into the Ulster jersey he was wearing then."
His decision to leave New Zealand for Ulster proved to be good timing. The province was rebuilding and needed a warrior of Sexton's quality, while he still had the hunger to meet a fresh and unknown challenge.
Sexton certainly didn't disappoint. As such, it was no surprise that he became a huge presence in the starting team and the squad as a whole, while also bringing much value to the province's overall growth.
He finished up with playing after leaving Ulster in 2004 and, though tempted to stick around and find a sport-oriented job in Northern Ireland, he returned home with a Celtic Cup winners' medal in his pocket and some of his best memories both on and off the field to head up the Crusaders' Academy.
"Coming to Ulster was something unexpected - it was different to go and live in another part of the world," he says.
"It was also the start of my coaching and mentoring pathway and, when I was at Ulster, I was also there to help young players come through such as Paul Shields and Rory Best."
He has been with NZRU for the past six years, following time served at the Crusaders' Academy and then a challenging shift as head coach at the Southern Kings in South Africa, and is also currently involved in the national set-ups at both schools and under-20s level, as well as coaching at his son Thomas's school in Wellington.
It's a busy household with rugby centre stage, especially as wife Cate is head of women's rugby development at NZRU, though much focus last week was, naturally, on the return of Super Rugby - crowds included - to New Zealand.
"We had a pretty good team and a pack that would rival most," Sexton recalls of being at Ulster along with the experienced South African international Robbi Kempson and Australian World Cup winner Rod Moore, as well as resident Kiwi and European Cup winner Andy Ward."
"We were as thick as thieves back at Ulster," he adds of Kempson, the latter now in charge at Sexton's former employers the Kings.
"Unfortunately, we looked very similar and, as Robbi was a bit of a master of the dark arts, I ended up taking a few hits from various people along the way. We laugh about that now."
In an era with less scrutiny surrounding the game, they played hard both on and off the field.
"You could enjoy yourself without the risk of social media," says Sexton, whose passion away from rugby is fishing. "We had some great fun and good times.
"But Solly (Solomons) ran a pretty tight ship with the team regarding things like recovery and we had a trainer back then called Phil Mack who helped keep things pretty professional even though we didn't have our own gym on-site.
"He (Mack) used to get a bit frustrated with me because my skinfolds (body fat tests) were never the best."
"He would make me do them until they got down to a certain level, which was tough though it provided some motivation to stay away from the cheese and the Guinness," laughs Sexton, who played over 50 times for Ulster and finally bowed out when representing the Barbarians at Twickenham in 2004.
The serious business went pretty well on the field and though breaking into European knockout rugby proved elusive, Ulster began to build the concept of 'fortress Ravenhill' during the early years of the century, as well as winning the Celtic Cup at Murrayfield in 2003.
"The team were proud of the home record we had and I always felt we were building on the foundations laid by the European Cup win with some hugely talented young players coming through," says Sexton.
"We knocked over some fabulous clubs on home turf. That was pretty special and I know that the crowds played a big part in that."
Though he hasn't been in the ground since it was redeveloped and rebranded, Sexton has been back in the province several times over the years - most recently in 2017 - to reconnect with friends and former playing pals. At one time, he was even rumoured to be in the running for the head coaching job.
If there are regrets at never earning an All Blacks call-up, these are well camouflaged as he mentions a certain Sean Fitzpatrick and Warren Gatland, as well as Norm Hewett and Anton Oliver, as always being ahead of him in the pecking order.
Sexton did, however, get All Black trials, but missing a team meeting, called at admittedly short notice, because he had gone fishing didn't really endear him to the national selectors.
"I've been involved in the game for a long time now, both before and after it went professional, and it's been good but, you know, Ulster was a really great place to play," he says.
And he was some player.