Benson shakes off couch mode in style

By Shane Hurndell

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In his own words, former professional kickboxer Angus Benson has become "a bit of a couch potato" in recent years.

"I needed something to keep me occupied and off the couch," says Benson as yesterday's wet weather prevented him from working as a roller operator for Dudding Contractors.

Benson, 23, last played rugby in 2001 when he made a title winning Napier Ross Shield rugby team which included All Black Zac Guildford and Hurricanes first five-eighth Daniel Kirkpatrick. He returned to the Napier Technical club he played his junior grade stuff for at the start of this season and some impressive pre-season form saw the regular openside flanker named as lock for the premier team's Nash Cup opener against Clive on Saturday.

His decision to get active again was rewarded with a player-of-the-match performance in the side's 69-8 win at Farndon Park.

Benson is the first weekly MVP winner in this season's Tui-Hawke's Bay Today Club Rugby Player of the Year competition.

"I didn't know I was the player-of-the-day until I read it in Monday's paper.

I didn't hang around after the game ... I thought I had better get home to the kids," the father-of-two says.

"I'm glad I've returned to rugby. We've got a mean team and I'm sure we can retain the Nash Cup and give the Maddison Trophy a serious crack."

A St John's College product, Benson took up kickboxing in 2002. The 2004 national and North Island junior welterweight under-16 champion collected five wins and two losses on New Zealand soil before deciding to try his luck across the Tasman in 2006.

While fighting in Australia for a year Benson, who was then trained by Hawke's Bay-raised Hape Ngaronoa, had 12 fights and won eight of them. In his fighting days he weighed in around the 70kg mark but is now 86kg.

"I would still like to put on more size and the long-term goal is to make the Magpies," Benson says.

A former Dog Soldier with the Mongrel Mob, Benson is still involved with the gang. However, he appreciates sport can provide a better path for youngsters.

"I would encourage promising youngsters to take the right path. One can have more of a life if one takes the right path instead of the wrong path."

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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