Two weeks ago Aussie lock Alec Williams sent the Napier Old Boys Marist Rugby Club a Facebook message to gauge if they were interested in his services.
Today he was one of NOBM's tryscorers as they recovered from a 19-point deficit on two occasions to beat defending champions Hutt Old Boys Marist 38-31 in the Spillane Cup final at the 89th edition of the New Zealand Marist tournament in Napier.
"I scored a job as a pilot with Air Napier and a mate of mine who is an Air New Zealand pilot suggested I should check the NOBM club out," Williams recalled.
"Everyone has been really welcoming and it's been good to have been part of this tournament which is special to the Marist clubs," Williams said.
Like most of his teammates, the 26-year-old Williams who played for the New South Wales division one club Mosman in Sydney, but had a season with the Wakatipu club in Queenstown in 2017, was guilty of dropping the ball on several occasions as the hosts leaked 19 unanswered points early in the first half. Hutt Old Boys Marist led 19-5 at halftime and 31-12 early in the second half.
The fact NOBM conceded an early penalty try and had first five-eighth Bain Champion in the sin bin added to the magnitude of their comeback. Williams' try had the hosts trailing 31-24 midway through the second spell.
"I was very happy with that try and the way we fought back," Williams added.
The hosts equalised when second five-eighth Pedro Benzanilla-Corte won the chase to a clever kick ahead from first five-eighth Bain Champion who added the extras. Fullback Michael Buckley scored the match winning try seconds from the final whistle.
On Saturday NOBM pipped Marist St Pats 31-24 to secure their berth in the final. In addition to winning the Spillane Cup, which they last won in 2018, NOBM had two players - prop Dom Devine, and No 8 Matt Gardner - selected in the tournament team and NOBM's All Blacks halfback Brad Weber won the 2019 New Zealand Marist Player of the Year award.
Hastings Rugby and Sports walloped Marist St Pats 54-19 in the playoff for third. Magpies hooker Jacob Devery scored three tries in the victory.
Devery joined promising prop Jeremiah Tuiatua and winger Joeli Rauca, two members of last year's national title-winning Hastings Boys' High first XV, as the Hastings players selected in the tournament team.
Second five-eighth, Jordan Thompson-Dunn, the co-captain of last year's HBHS first XV, who scored two tries, and fullback Ioane Ioane, who succeeded with seven of his eight attempts at goal, and centre Gideon Kautai also impressed in the Hastings backline.
Kautai scored a hat-trick on Saturday when Hastings were pipped 47-41 by Hutt Old Boys Marist after trailing 35-7 at halftime.
Both the NOBM and Hastings Rugby and Sports teams were missing numerous key players at the weekend but both sides proved they have sufficient depth to finish among the top four teams in Hawke's Bay's Nash Cup and Maddison Trophy premier club competitions.
The 89th Spillane Cup
Tournament XV which was announced after Saturday's play:
1. Dom Devine (Napier), 2. Jacob Devery (Hastings), 3. Jeremiah Tuiatua (Hastings), 4. Alex Kauvalu (Auckland), 5. Josh Balme (Hamilton), 6. James Goodger (Masterton), 7. Richie Tuivansavou (Rotorua), 8. Matt Gardner (Napier), 9. Connor Collins (Hutt Valley), 10. James Proctor (Wellington), 11. Joeli Rauca (Hastings), 12. Kakau He Ora Eouhna Namuli (Auckland), 13. Isaiah Vinceenson (Hamilton), 14. Lewini Moceakala (Auckland), 15. Andrew Wells (Wellington).
2019 New Zealand Marist Player of the Year: Brad Weber (Napier).