Astute followers of Hawke's Bay age group rugby should remember the name Michael Buckley.
Yes, the 2011 Hawke's Bay under-16 loosie who played for the Napier Boys' High School 1st XV during the 2012 and '13 seasons. Well Buckley, 22, is back in the Bay and eyeing a berth in the Magpies Mitre 10 Cup squad, not in the loose forward department but as an outside back.
"I had four weeks in the Wellington Lions wider training squad last year and it was a good experience which made me keen for more. I didn't get any games because Julian Savea came back," Buckley said referring to the former All Black who was prominent in the Lions' Championship title success.
"I haven't been to any Magpies wider training squad training sessions and I haven't had any talks with the Magpies coaches. I'm just hoping to play my way into the team as an outside back," Buckley said.
Although he has switched between the forwards and backs since his 2008 season in the title-winning Napier Ross Shield team, Buckley, is adamant he will be staying in the backs.
"I've been there since my first year of university," he recalled.
After leaving NBHS in 2013 Buckley went to Wellington to study accounting and commercial law. He has one paper remaining to complete his degree.
While in the capital Buckley had three seasons of premier club play for the Marist St Pats club. During two of those years they made the Jubilee Cup final and in the third they were beaten semifinalists.
Last year he won one of the prestigious overall awards at the club's prizegiving.
"It's good to home hunting for a job and experiencing better weather," Buckley quipped this week.
He has linked up with the Napier Old Boys Marist club and his first outing with them will be the 16-team Wavell Wakefield Middlesex County Cup National Club Sevens hosted by the Eden club at Auckland's Gribblehirst Park.
"My seasons were pretty good with the Marist St Pats club in Wellington so I thought why change when coming back to the Bay. This weekend will be a good way to get to know how the NOBM boys play. I've been with them for three weeks now. They've been working quite hard through the summer so hopefully we're fit enough this weekend and everything works out well."
Buckley, Napier Boys' High School product Dan Sharplin and former Marist St Pats colts winger Saia Pease will all be making their debuts for the NOBM Sevens team this weekend.
Magpies halfback and Hawke's Bay Sevens coach Ellery Wilson is unavailable this weekend as he is getting married in Rarotonga. One of the Green Machine's workaholic forwards, Sean Skeet, is also tying the knot this weekend and the experienced trio of Chris Johnston, Migao Lauano and Liam Edwards will all miss the trip north as they will be attending Skeet's wedding.
Hawke's Bay Sevens rep Johnny Lauano is unavailable with work commitments and another of the club's Magpies halfbacks, Zac Donaldson, is still recovering from injury.
NOBM head coach Craig Gowler will also be attending Skeet's wedding and his co-director of rugby Matt Wyatt will be in charge of the Auckland expedition.
"Yes we've got some key players unavailable but we will still be aiming for a top-four finish in our debut at the national sevens," Gowler said.
"I can't wait to see how our new young fellas go particularly Dan Sharplin who is in his first year out of Napier Boys' High School," he added.
NOBM are in the same pool as Northland's Old Boys Marist, Bay of Plenty's Greerton Marist and Pakuranga. The top two teams from each pool will qualify for tomorrow's quarter-finals.
NOBM qualified for the nationals courtesy of their second consecutive title win of their club's invitation sevens tournament win in November.
The NOBM team is:
Matt Gardner, Ricky Hayes, Hannon Brighouse, Craig Sharplin, Mitch Drew, Michael Buckley, Sonny Lilo, Sam Weber, Saia Pease, Paul Bickle, Sami Lauano, Dan Sharplin.