Rugby: Living the true sporting dream

By Shane Hurndell

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MAC premier rugby loosie Dempsey Greening has been involved with the Puawaitanga Takaro Maori programme for seven years.

Programme mentor, Kiwi rugby league legend Kevin Tamati, will tell you it deals with physical and mental preparation, mental toughness and building a dream. In 18-year-old Greening's case it's fair to say he has been living his dream ... getting the best of the rugby and league worlds as well as life in general.

The latest chapter in his dream saw Greening become the ninth winner in the Tui-Hawke's Bay Today Club Player of the Year award with a player-of-the-match performance as MAC beat Clive 15-5 at Farndon Park on Saturday. The victory saw MAC secure its best finish in the Nash Cup in 20 years with a fifth placing.

"We can build on that. We're unlikely to lose too many players to the Magpies, so there's no reason why we can't aim to win the Maddison Trophy," Greening said, referring to the fact the Maddison rounds starts on Saturday.

One of three members of last year's Hastings Boys' High School 1st XV (front-rower Tere Joel and inside back Caelyn Box are the others) in the MAC premier squad, Greening, first played for the side as a 15-year-old but this is his first full season in the team.

A two-time Ross Shield tournament winner with the Napier side while attending Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Te Ara Hou, Greening was always destined for the premier squad after representing the club from fifth to 12th grade.

Bridge Pa-born and raised, Greening, represented the Hawke's Bay Ross Shield team and under-14s in union as well as the 13s, 15s and 17s in league.

Last year Greening trialled for the Warriors Under-20s as a 17-year-old and Tamati will take him back to Auckland for another trial this year.

Tamati believes Greening's versatility is his biggest asset in the 13-man code. "We've had him at prop, second row, loosie, centre and fullback.

"Prop is the best spot because you have to muscle up on attack and defence and put everything on the line," Tamati, who played 22 tests for the Kiwis at prop between 1979 and '85, said.

Greening pointed out it would be tough to leave the improving MAC side if he made the Warriors Under-20s.

"But that's my dream that's what we've been building for," Greening said after completing a boxing training session with Tamati at the Choices Gym in Hastings.

A natural leader, Greening, boasts similar skills to another of Bridge Pa's favourite sons, East Coast Heartland Championship player Everard Reid, and he enhanced these skills when attending an International Rugby Academy of New Zealand course last year. When he completes his programme commitments with Tamati, Greening intends to study to become a teacher. It's obvious he could become a mentor to youth in years to come.

However his immediate priority is to help MAC beat Central in their Maddison Trophy first round encounter at Flaxmere's Ron Giorgi Park on Saturday.

"Central won't be easy as we only beat them by two points in the season opener. However we're hopeful of winning our first five games in the Maddison so we've got to start well," he added.

Needless to say an MAC loss to Central could see Greening's dream turn into a nightmare ... temporarily.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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