Several long-time observers of the Hawke's Bay club rugby scene reckon Napier Technical loosie Hugh Reed is playing the best footy of his career.
With the 2008 New Zealand under-20 world champion picking up his second player-of-the-match performance on Saturday, it's hard to argue. Reed's display in Group Tech of Companies Napier Technical's 27-6 sixth round Nash Cup victory against Tanalised Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports on Saturday saw him become this season's sixth winner in the Tui-Hawke's Bay Today Club Player of the Year award.
Reed, 24, who has been playing in the Bay since 2008 after moving north from Canterbury, yesterday revealed one of the secrets to his success.
"This season is the first since I've been in the Bay that I have studied full-time. So when I get out on the field, I feel good to have that outlet and I make the most of it."
Reed is in his final semester of a Bachelor of Business Studies course at EIT. During previous seasons, he has had to fit his studies around his commitments with the Hawke's Bay Magpies team which he made nine first-class appearances for from 2008-11.
While Reed has yet to have any contact from the Magpies selectors this season, and isn't in the wider training group, he is performing well enough to come under the microscope again, particularly if Hurricanes openside flanker Karl Lowe opts for an overseas stint after his Super season.
"If the opportunity comes, I'll be happy to take it but, in the meantime, I'm happy to be enjoying my club rugby," Reed said.
The more-than-handy tennis player is also happy with how the unbeaten Tech side is performing as a team.
"We've set a big goal this year of winning both rounds. We've got a bit more depth this year and we're pretty keen to win the Maddison Trophy for the first time since 1992," Reed said.
In recent seasons, Tech have always performed well during the Nash Cup but struggled in the Maddison Trophy rounds once their Magpies players have to focus on their ITM Cup commitments. Reed is predicting Tech to have three or four Magpies and agreed halfback Sheridan Rangihuna and winger Penikolo Latu's absence when on World Cup duty with the New Zealand under-20s in France next month will be a "big blow" to the side.
Reed will miss Tech's home game against Clive at Whitmore Park on Saturday because he will be in Auckland attending his partner's graduation ceremony.
When he isn't studying or training and playing rugby, Reed is likely to be found working for the Kelly Sports franchise in Napier. This focuses on in-school, after-school and holiday coaching programmes for youngsters.
"It's good helping the young ones improve their skills. With it being a part-time job, the money comes in handy too," Reed added.
Should he continue to produce displays on the field like he has in recent weeks, he may be able to reduce that part-time work and add another stint as a pro rugby player to his CV too.