Dynamic Napier Old Boys Marist rugby loosie Chris Johnston was the talk of the Bali 10s tournament last the weekend.
"Everybody was talking about him over here. All the Aussies and players from the other teams we faced couldn't believe he wasn't in the Hawke's Bay Magpies team this season. He should have been ... he was that good," NOBM coach Craig Gowler said, after his troops beat Perth-based Kalamunda Bulls 12-0 in their final.
In their semifinal NOBM beat the Perth Bayswater side 19-0. In their pool games on day one, when temperature reached 36 degrees, NOBM beat Augmen Barbarians from Australia 17-0, a British Army team, the Flying Kukris, 31-0 and an Indonesian side, Tabalan, 44-0.
"To score 142 points in six games while conceding none really says something for our defence," Gowler said.
Another of his loosies, Ricky Hayes, who played for the Magpies earlier in the season, impressed with his elusive runs and halfback Zac Donaldson, who also had Mitre 10 Cup game time earlier in the season, shone with his ability to sniff out space.
Experienced midfield back Migao Lauano quickly became a crowd favourite with his blockbusting runs and while Gowler's son Logan, who is Wellington-based, fitted in well with the Maddison Trophy, Nash Cup, Hawke's Bay Challenge Trophy and NOBM Invitation Sevens title holders.
Coach Gowler pointed out both the Kalamunda Bulls and Perth Baywater teams contained some huge players.
"We had to play it at pace and move the ball around as much as we could. I'm sure those Aussie teams spend all day in the gym."
On the day before the tournament the NOBM players conducted skills and drills coaching sessions with the Bali Sevens and Academy teams.
"As a result of those sessions we were treated like the home team by the locals when the final was played," Gowler said.
Yesterday the NOBM players did some work at a Bali orphanage and presented the youngsters with some Kooga gear and groceries as a token of thanks to the Balinese people for their hospitality and friendship.
Gowler said his troops will have a couple of weeks rest before their attention will turn to retaining their NOBM Invitation Sevens title on November 18.
Loosie Jack Nelson-Murray will miss that tournament with an ankle sprain collected during the weekend while lock Sean Skeet is confident he will have recovered from a chest injury by then.
"We have had an awesome year and we want to keep this momentum going next year. We know we will have targets on our backs so we will prepare accordingly after a bit of rest and recreation over here," Gowler added.