Strangely Sam Lane will be playing outside his comfort zone after being selected for the New Zealand Deaf Blacks tour of England.
The profoundly deaf Whanganui rugby player says he is far more comfortable competing in full hearing sides, although he will not be shirking his duties as a lock or loose forward for his country in November.
The Kaierau senior player was selected after playing in the Central Zone deaf rugby competition that includes East Coast, Hawke's Bay, Horowhenua-Kapiti, Manawatu, Poverty Bay, Taranaki, Wairarapa Bush, Whanganui and Wellington.
Deaf since birth Lane has played rugby seriously for the past eight years and while he was lock for the senior team this year, he did make the step up to premier level on occasion.
While he did not elaborate, the 28-year-old made it clear he enjoyed the hearing game more than he did the deaf version, mainly because of the subtle rule differences.
"I was surprised, but excited to be selected for the Deaf Blacks and I will be doing my best in the tests series," Lane said.
"Rugby is my preferred sport, although I also play soccer and 8-ball. It's far easier to play hearing rugby, deaf rugby is much harder - it's difficult to explain."
Several years ago Lane did play a season with the Kaierau premier team and coach Keith Saville said he was a fearless loose forward who was not afraid to throw his body on the line for the team. His 2017 senior coach Neil Forlong agreed.
"You couldn't get a more committed team player than Sam," Forlong said.
"He is not the tallest lock you've seen, but he's effective and we actually developed lineout calls around Sam, calls he could easily understand.
"Sam is an incredibly brave player and is a real advantage to have in the team. His hearing problem doesn't seem to affect his performance - the opposition wouldn't know he's deaf and he's a real pleasure to have in the side. He's an integral part of the Kaierau team and a popular member," Forlong said.
Lane said each year he had taken leave from club duties to play for the central zone side in national competitions, competitions the zone had some successes in.
Central Zone has won the New Zealand Deaf Rugby Shield on seven occasions - 1994, 1995, 1999, 2000, 2007, 2008 and 2009.
The Kaierau club had backed their player fundraising to help with tour costs and on Wednesday handed over $1000 in cash.
Saville, who is also club president, said the club had added to the fundraising proceeds to make a round figure.
Lane leaves for England at the end of the month in time to make the first match of the tour, a friendly warm up game against full hearing club side Bromley in London on November 1.
The first test against the England deaf team is on November 4 at the Blackheath Rugby Club in London, followed by the second on November 8 at the Harlow Rugby Club in Essex. The third and final test is on November 12 at the Barking Rugby Club in Dagenham, Essex.