Otamatea and Northland first-five Dan Hawkins may be relatively new to the region, but since his arrival he has made himself comfy. On the weekend, Dan scored a try for Otamatea in their 24-5 loss to Kamo. Dan was in at The Northern Advocate and took a moment to answer these questions ...
With the club rugby so far, is it too early to gauge which teams are the ones to look out for?
I suppose Hora Hora on paper look pretty good. The Northland boys are spread out pretty well around the clubs. You can probably gauge a few teams, Mid Northern and Hora Hora are always up there but I suppose there'd be a few dark horses by the end of it. See who gets up there, I'm not too sure at this stage.
Is there any team in particular you look forward to playing against or special rivalry or whatever?
This year playing Hora Hora will be pretty good, because I live with a few boys who play for them so it might be the battle for the dishes. The Waipu battle is always a good one, there's a bit of rivalry there - they're doing well so it'll be a good battle. There's normally a few dust ups in that one, it's all part of it.
When you're playing for Otamatea do you have a leadership role?
I guess I'm one of the leaders now. I love playing there though, they took me in when I first got here and I wouldn't change it for anything ... I love it up here and I love the way the boys are, good bunch of dudes.
Where are you originally from, when did you move up, and do you call Northland home now?
I'm from Picton, I had a bit of time off work and a position came up up here. There was no promises, I had to earn my way in, and landed at Ota and went from there - best move I made. Probably this time last year, I played the last six games I think and had a season with Northland. Oh yeah, it's home ... I love it up here.
When you think back to last year's ITM Cup, the NRU had brought in Ben Seymour and he was the Super Rugby player and you'd shoved him out of position by the end of the season, was that a surprise for you?
I always knew Benny was going to have the first crack at it [starting] and you know he's good, I learnt a lot from him. I just sort of got my shot and sort of took against Hawke's Bay there. As soon as I had a good game I feel sweet as now, I guess it was just taking the opportunity when it comes up.