TALK about perfect timing from Central first five-eighth Kodie Drury-Hawkins in Hawke's Bay's premier club rugby competition.
With Chiefs pivot Tiaan Falcon unavailable for the Magpies this season with his ruptured Achilles tendon injury, Drury-Hawkins, who is in his first season in the Bay, has the ideal opportunity to join Baby Blacks contender Lincoln McClutchie as the first five-eighth in the Magpies Mitre 10 Cup squad.
"That is the goal. But it is important I focus on doing my best for Central. If I play well everything else will look after itself," Drury-Hawkins said yesterday.
The Hastings Boys' High School PE teacher was raised in Otaki before moving to Australia where he has played all of his league and rugby is obviously playing well. He produced a player-of-the-match display including a last minute penalty to give Northfuels Central their 30-27 Tui Nash Cup win against MAC in Waipukurau on Wednesday night to become the fourth winner in the tussle to become the 2019 recipient of the McDonald's Hawke's Bay Today Club Rugby Player of the Year award.
Drury-Hawkins, 26, played league until he was 18 for Cronulla Sharks teams and at Endeavour Sports High School in Sydney. When he switched to union he played for the West Harbour club.
"I've always wanted to give the Mitre 10 Cup a crack. I thought I could play in Aussie and switch over to New Zealand after the season over there. But by coming back like I have is the better pathway ... it's the right way to prove myself in our area," Drury-Hawkins explained.
"This season has been really good. In our first two games we got hidings from Hastings [57-9] and NOBM [55-12] but we've picked it up with our last two games [a 12-11 win against Napier Pirate and Sports and the victory against MAC].
"The standard is quite strong. You can tell players have been in good systems at Napier Boys' High School, Hastings Boys' High School and Lindisfarne College. You also still have players who are playing for fun and that's the best things about rugby ... I've played with a lot of rugby players who play for fun," Drury-Hawkins said.
In addition to his playing commitments Drury-Hawkins also coaches the Hastings Boys' High School D grade team with Clive premier player Rocky Pohatu. His partner Radmila is a former West Harbour winger and he is waiting to see if she will play in the Bay.
Drury-Hawkins has enjoyed his trainings with the Magpies wider training squad to date.
"They have been more position specific than what I had in Australia. They will make you a better player."
This is the first season since 2017 Central have recorded two consecutive wins. Ironically in that season those consecutive wins were also recorded against Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports and MAC in the corresponding rounds of the Nash Cup.
Central manager Ian Large was oozing with confidence yesterday as he pondered today's fifth round clash against unbeaten Progressive Meats Havelock North at Anderson Park.
With the likes of Hurricanes lock Geoff Cridge, the Parsons brothers Ben and Tom who have both locked for the Magpies, former Manawatu Turbos hooker Travis Taylor and in-form No 8 Tomo Fogarty all available Central's forward pack has the potential to dominate this clash.
As Drury-Hawkins said:
"It will be a good test as to where we are. We will be able to take a lot out of this game."
Taradale Rugby and Sports will be doing well to get within 11 points of defending champions WIT Napier Old Boys Marist in the battle of the unbeaten competition leaders at Tareha Recreation Reserve. After three consecutive losses MAC should return to the winning path with a 9 point win against Tanalised Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports at Flaxmere Park, Auto Super Shoppe Hastings Rugby and Sports have the potential to beat Tamatea by 17 at Elwood Park and Tremains Andrew Clark Clive should pip Altherm Window Systems Napier Technical by three at Farndon Park.
Best & Fairest
Central v MAC: 3, Kodie Drury-Hawkins (Central); 2, Colin Hokianga (MAC); 1, Penetana Smith (MAC).
NOBM v Pirate: 3, Matt Gardner (NOBM); 2, Zac Donaldson (NOBM); 1, Jack Nelson-Murray (NOBM).
Hastings v Tech: 3, Jacob Devery (Hastings); 2, Elijah Martin (Tech); 1, Fale Matamata (Hastings).
Taradale v Tamatea: 3, Jacob Baker (Taradale); 2, Toby Single (Taradale); 1, Jimi Harris (Tamatea).
Leaderboard: 5 points: Liam Edwards (NOBM), Pouri Rakete-Stones (Pirate), Jordan Kupa, Jacob Baker (both Taradale), Tom Iosefo (MAC). 3: Matt Gardner, Tyler Symon-Burke, Patrick Teddy (all NOBM), Iakopo Mapu, Junior Malielegaoi (both Taradale), Matt Morrison, Matt Hill, Jacob Stephenson (all Havelock), Jayden Rihia, Jacob Devery, Sakopo Ofa (all Hastings), Kodie Drury-Hawkins, Finau Nimatasau (both Central), Donovan Mataira, Zac Southwick (both Clive).