There appeared to be an extra spring in the step of the Hawke's Bay United football team's Canadian import Gavin Hoy at this week's trainings.
Suggest to him that it might have something to do with his selection in the ISPS Handa Premiership's Team of the Week after last weekend's first round and he nods his head.
"That's the first time I've been named in the side during my three seasons in the Premiership. It's a good start to the season," Hoy said before last night's final training session in the buildup to tomorrow's second round clash against the Wellington Phoenix Reserves at Trust Porirua Park in the capital.
"I'm really enjoying the Hawke's Bay United environment this season. There's a culture there that had been missing for the last two seasons. We've recruited well and we have the team to compete ... it's all quite exciting," Hoy explained.
"Obviously we weren't happy with the 3-2 loss to Auckland City last weekend but we were happy with the quality of our competing."
The left winger is enjoying the freedom co-coaches Chris Greatholder and Bill Robertson have given him.
"I'm allowed to go up field more now and if I think I can contribute up front I can."
Hoy, 27, scored a cracker of a goal for Thirsty Whale Hawke's Bay United with a free kick from 20 metres out last weekend. However he said this didn't guarantee him the job for tomorrow.
"That depends on other players."
Having played against the Phoenix Reserves during their pre-season campaign, Hoy said, the United lads know what to expect.
"They are quite a talented young team but we will be able to exploit them. We know we've got the quality and the talent and while we expect to win we've got to work for it. We know they like to build high pressure so we have to break their lines, play around them and beat their press."
Hoy, who is still awaiting a work visa, tasted Chatham Cup glory in his first season with Napier City Rovers during the winter after previously playing for Wellington Olympic and Team Taranaki at Central League level.
Greatholder said he and Robertson were likely to use the same starting line-up as they did last weekend. This means Hastings Boys' High School's 18-year-old striker Jack Parker, who scored with his first touch of the ball, will be used in an impact role again.
One would have thought Parker did enough last week to earn a start. However at least Greatholder knows he can slip the collar off Parker at any time and know he will deliver if any of the starters are playing below par.
Greatholder believed the Phoenix side will provide a different form of a threat to what Auckland City did as the Sam Wilkinson-coached outfit adopt a different shape.
"They are a very agile and young side and they move the ball at pace. But we've done the necessary preparation and we know where and how we can grab the ball off the Phoenix."
Former Hawke's Bay United player, Luis Toomey, is on the Wellington Phoenix roster and it will be interesting to see if he gets any minutes against his former side.
Teams for tomorrow's 1pm clash at Trust Porirua Park:
Hawke's Bay United: 1. Ruben Parker (GK), 4. Kaeden Atkins, 6. Jack Parker, 7. Sho Goto, 8. Karan Mandair, 9. Ahinga Selemani, 10. Dylan Sacramento, 14. Gavin Hoy, 15. Josh Murphy, 16. Joshua Signey, 17. Fergus Neil, 19. Bjorn Christensen, 20. Bill Robertson, 21. Shea Stapleton, 22. Ihaia Delaney, 23. Jorge Akers.
Coach: Chris Greatholder.
Wellington Phoenix Reserves: 1. Zac Jones (GK), 4. Kurtis Mogg, 5. Ronan Wynne, 6. Noah Tipene-Clegg, 7. Adam Hewson, 8. Owen Smith, 9. Stephen Sprowson, 10. Byron Heath, 11. Sam Sutton, 14. Luis Toomey, 15. Ahmed Othman, 16. Riley Bidois, 17. Callan Elliot, 20. Zachary Dean (GK), 24. Blake Driehuis, 26. Ryusei Ishibashi.
Coach: Sam Wilkinson.