Ben Foden is to become the first marquee player to play Major League Rugby (MLR) in the US after a deal was reached with the New York franchise, which is making its debut in next year's competition as the league expands from seven to 10 teams.
For Foden, America is still the land of opportunity in rugby and the opportunity of playing an integral role in helping the sport take off is what has attracted the former England international to the MLR.
When he was first approached by Rugby United New York owner James Kennedy, there were no training facilities for him to look around, no stadium for him to stand in the middle of and soak in the atmosphere, and barely a full squad. Instead he met Kennedy at his house.
But as New York's rugby franchise prepares to make its MLR debut in next year's competition, it was a vision of awakening the sleeping giant which lured Foden in. The low, stringent salary cap means this is not a move for financial riches -- far from it -- and aged 32, this is not a retirement home for Foden but instead has offered him a new chapter in an already illustrious career.
"Instead of moving to another English club or going to France for two years, I thought why not get involved with something which has a lot of potential to go places," Foden told ESPN. "New York is a very attractive city in terms of things going on and being lively so that opens up doorways. It's exciting to get out there. They're a new team. I met James Kennedy, the owner, and liked where his head was at and where rugby's going in America and I agreed with him. It seemed a logical step."
A logical step, but hardly a conventional one as Foden, who won 34 caps for England, is the trailblazer. He is the biggest name to play domestic rugby in America; his decision to move on from domestic rugby in Europe is rugby's equivalent of David Beckham's move to LA Galaxy back in 2007. He could have had a few more years in the Gallagher Premiership, or in the Top 14, but he wanted his legacy here to be stamped in Northampton Saints' colours -- a club which he has played for since 2008 -- and America is a leap into the unknown.
The debut season of MLR finished in July, with Seattle Seawolves winning the inaugural campaign. There were seven franchises -- operating a similar model to MLS -- but there should be 10 next year, with 12 pencilled in for 2020 and then the potential of Eastern and Western conferences. There are big plans, but also an understanding that with growth there needs to be a reliance on sustainability.
This is why Foden's two-year contract with New York sees him combine playing duties with coaching the backs. It was far more attractive to him than being a squad player, covering the back three on this side of the pond. "It wold have been a short-term move rather than somewhere I'd set up home," Foden said. "I see America as a massive powerhouse in rugby and when they get involved in things it usually goes full throttle and clicks.
"The talent-pool they've got with ex-NFL and basketball players, and them trying to get it through the school systems is incredible. And New York already has 74 amateur rugby teams so there's a base, they've done exhibition games against local teams and there is a following there. They're working with the city, they're approaching it in the right way so it's a success story waiting to happen."
Foden's family will join in due course, but for the time being he is enjoying resting his bruised body after 14 years of top flight English rugby. He feels the top pros are playing far too many games, but he will be using all that nous to help bring through the next generation of American rugby talent.
He is looking forward to trying to find more speedsters like Carlin Isles and Perry Baker in the American athletic system while working on finding young players in the competitive Ivy League rugby scene to be the key decision makers.
"That won't happen overnight, you need guys around the game," Foden said. "But it's one thing that excites me: they have the combines and they are interested in finding the athletes who are quick and powerful. It can also be done in rugby.
"He [owner James Kennedy] wants me to help him create a professional environment and be attractive to other players and overseas players and build a brand that people want to be involved in. For that to work, we need to find players in New York who are going to be the next big thing and then see them in the World Cup."
The immediate focus will be to find a suitable stadium, and agree the required planning position. They have been offered options on Staten Island and in the Bronx, and then there is the task of nailing the fan experience with tailgaiting a big part of New York's rugby vision.
In the short and long-term, this makes sense for Foden. He has spent time talking with friend and fellow England international Alex Corbisiero, who recommended Foden to Kennedy, and has heard how enthusiastically he has spoken about the opportunities Stateside. "He put it in my head that it was an opportunity," Foden said of Corbisiero, and there's also the possibility of, with their agent James Grant, creating an American rugby arm of that management business.
And so, with a transatlantic ticket, Foden brings down the curtain on his Premiership career. He has won plenty, including Premiership titles with Sale Sharks and Northampton, but now is the time for a different challenge.
"If you talk to anyone in rugby in England and if you mention the opportunity to go and play rugby in America, although the money isn't there to bring in big names, if you say and talk about how it's growing they show excitement and interest in going over, when the time's right, when the league's had a couple more years and teams are more embedded," Foden said. "It's exciting, that's the main thing. It's a new chapter and hopefully a good one."