Switching from university student to dairy farm worker has benefited Karl Hewitt's rugby big time.
"It's been a big adjustment. When I'm not milking cows I'm repairing fences and doing other physical stuff ... I'm virtually on my feet all day," the Taradale halfback said after becoming this season's first-round winner in the Tui-Hawke's Bay Today Club Player of the Year award.
Hewitt, 20, was home on vacation from his Otago University physical-education course last year when he took on milking cows as a holiday job on Doug Grieve's Patoka farm. He enjoyed it so much he took on the role fulltime in January.
The only time the son of former Taradale halfback Russell Hewitt and nephew of former Taradale, Magpies and All Black hooker Norm Hewitt isn't on his feet is when he is on a motorbike rounding up the 360 cows for milking.
"Most of the time the cows are too far away from the shed for me to walk. They listen to me better when I'm on the motorbike," Hewitt said.
The former Napier Boys' High School 1st XV player is grateful for the support he receives from Grieve and farm manager Wayne Cracknell, which allows him to play rugby.
"They're really supportive and tell me as long as I get my work done they are happy for me to play. Being outdoors beats sitting in the classroom," Hewitt said.
While Taradale were as dominant as the score suggests during Saturday's Nash Cup first-round 43-14 victory against Clive at Farndon Park, Hewitt is expecting this Saturday's match against Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports at Park Island to be a "big step up".
There will be an extra incentive for Hewitt to repeat last weekend's form. He will be marking Jonathan Ruru, last year's Taradale halfback and a player Hewitt regularly competed with for the No9 jersey when they were teammates in the NBHS 1st XV.
"We've been rivals since our Ross Shield days. It will be good to rub shoulders with him again ... I'll try and get on top of him," Hewitt said.
Best & Fairest
Napier Technical v Hastings Rugby and Sports:
3, Mark Braidwood (Tech); 2, Hugh Reed (Tech); 1, Adam Ross (Hastings).
MAC v Central:
3, Willy Schuster (MAC); 2, Lance Baker (Central); 1, Sammy Porutu (MAC).
Taradale v Clive:
3, Karl Hewitt (Taradale); 2, Johan Schoonbee (Taradale); 1, James Tango (Clive).
Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports v Tamatea:
3, Michael Allardice (Pirate); 2, Hamiora Rowlands (Tamatea); 1, Dennis Puia (Pirate).
Havelock North v NOBM:
3, Kelly Petrowski (Havelock); 2, Semiperive Semeane (NOBM); 1, Ihaia West (Havelock).