Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports loosie Marcus Donovan handed in the captaincy for his team this season.
"I wanted to focus on my own game and not worry about everybody else's. There are plenty of leaders in the side," Donovan, who has played more than 100 games for Pirate during the past eight seasons, said.
His decision is paying off. Donovan, 26, produced a player-of-the-match performance for Tanalised Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports as they ended MAC's unbeaten run with a 26-0 victory in a fourth round Nash Cup encounter at Flaxmere's Ron Giorgi Park on Saturday. This display saw Donovan become this season's fourth winner in the Tui-Hawke's Bay Today Club Player of the Year award.
"We did a bit of soul-searching after the previous week's loss to Havelock North and bounced back really well," Donovan said referring to a 41-5 third round loss to the villagers.
A plumber and drainlayer with Panton Plumbing Ltd, Donovan pointed out a key to his successes on the rugby field since leaving Napier Boys' High School, where he had three years in the 1st XV, have been the regular "rugby chats" during smoko breaks with Pirate clubmate and former Magpies and Wanganui hooker Danny Logan.
"Danny got me the job and although he has opted to play for the seconds this season he still has plenty of valuable tips to pass on. We work together a lot on jobs and still manage to get the work-related discussions in during our breaks too," Donovan explained.
A former Hawke's Bay B representative, Donovan, also represented the Bay through all the age groups. He doesn't believe he is good enough to chase representative honours any more.
"But if the opportunity came up I wouldn't say no," he said.
A 2011 Maddison Trophy winner with Pirate, Donovan, has yet to experience a Nash Cup celebration party. He knows his side has to keep winning and the villagers and Napier Technical need to have a couple of losses this season if that is to happen.
Donovan is confident Pirate boasts the necessary depth to give the Maddison another serious crack this season. He is predicting the side will only lose utility back Nick McLennan and lock Michael Allardice to Magpies duty from the end of June.
However, he isn't looking too far ahead and this weekend's fifth round encounter against Clive at Park Island is his immediate priority.
"You never know what to expect from Clive," he said.
When he isn't playing or training for rugby, Donovan is likely to be found spend time with his family including five-year-old son MJ and five-month old daughter Bella. MJ will start Taradale Primary School after the holidays and with premier referee Marty Hantz the principal there the chances are he will get a rugby-related education which is likely to see him follow a similar rugby path to his dad.
Best & Fairest
Pirate v MAC:
3, Marcus Donovan (Pirate); 2, David Neilson (Pirate); 1, Kelsey Miller (Pirate).
Havelock North v Taradale:
3, Brendon Edmonds (Havelock); 2, Ziggy Fisiihoi (Taradale); 1, Johnny Robin (Havelock).
Napier Technical v Tamatea:
3, Hugh Reed (Tech); 2, Izaiah Martin (Tech); 1, Tane McGuire (Tech).
Hastings Rugby and Sports v Clive:
3, Luke Makris (Hastings); 2, Tom Parsons (Hastings); 1, Dennis Tapusua (Hastings).
NOBM v Central:
3, Jone Paumao (NOBM); 2, Tom Symes (Central); 1, Semiperive Semeane (NOBM).
6 points:Mark Atkins (Clive), Kelly Petrowski (Havelock).
5 points: Hugh Reed, Mark Braidwood (both Tech), Michael Allardice (Pirate).
4 points:Tom Symes (Central).
3 points:James Tango (Clive), Aayden Clarke, Marcus Donovan (both Pirate), Adam Bradey, Brendon Edmonds (both Havelock), Darren Deely, Sheridan Rangihuna (both Tech), Willy Schuster, Willy Benson, Tere Joel (all MAC), Hamiora Rowlands (Tamatea), Sean Watts, Jone Paumao (all NOBM).