CANADIAN import Nile Walwyn made a promise when he joined the Hawke's Bay United football side in September.
"The fans will see an athletic player with an aerial threat who is good technically. I'll be vocal and engaging. Engaging the players on the field, the dugout, the fans, everyone."
Walwyn, 22, has delivered, so much so he is one of a handful of Thirsty Whale Hawke's Bay United players who have played all 180 minutes of their Stirling Sports Premiership campaign to date. If there was any doubt the centre midfielder would deliver there shouldn't have been.
After all this was the bloke who had two pairs of boots in his hand luggage when he touched down on New Zealand soil for the first time. It was just as well, as the rest of his luggage missed his flight from Toronto to San Francisco and didn't arrive in the Bay until three days after he did.
Luggage mishap aside, Walwyn, who has played the beautiful game since he was 8 has no regrets about following up on advice from a California-based teammate, Brock Messenger of Canterbury United, to give New Zealand's national league a crack.
"The games are good over here and I've learnt a lot. There's a good team environment, one in which I can really thrive in. Coach Brett Angell is a great manager who does a lot of one-on-one stuff."
To be fair Walwyn arrived with a fair bit of knowledge and a handy footballing CV. He has played NCAA Division 1 football and Premier Development league in the California.
Walwyn, who is keen to continue his maximum minutes run when the Bay takes on Team Wellington at Bluewater Stadium from 1pm tomorrow, is also more than prepared for life after football.
Before coming to New Zealand he graduated from the University of Vermont. He has a business and administration bachelor's degree with a concentration in accounting and finance and a chemistry minor. While playing for the Bay he is a production worker for Simply Squeezed.
Walwyn was happy with the effort produced in the 3-1 win against Waitakere United and 1-0 loss to Eastern Suburbs.
"On any other day we could have got a couple of goals against Suburbs."
Like his teammates, Walwyn, isn't short on knowledge about tomorrow's opponents who include former Hawke's Bay United players Bill Robertson, the Napier City Rovers player-coach, Andy Bevin and Cole Peverley.
"We played them pre-season. They are a good side but we are a lot better team since then as we didn't have the same chemistry."
Walwyn, who plays the piano and likes hip-hop and R & B music, described Team Wellington as a possession-orientated outfit similar to Hawke's Bay United. While Team Wellington won the pre-season encounter 3-0 the score was 0-all during the first 60 minutes and it was only when Hawke's Bay United made wholesale changes for the final third that Team Wellington got on top.
Angell stressed consistency was the key to the hosts returning to the winning path tomorrow.
"We need to get that consistency across the full 90 minutes. When we're under the cosh we need to bed down, get back to what we know and make sure we don't concede."
Defending champions Team Wellington will be desperate for points in the wake of two losses.
"It's early days, we've got the players and the trust in what we're doing. We're confident we'll turn things around sooner rather than later," Team Wellington coach Jose Figueira said.
Needless to say some decent home crowd support, and Angell and his troops deserve it, will make Team Wellington's task slightly harder.
Hawke's Bay United: 1. Joshua Hill (GK), 2. Sean Liddicoat, 3. Kohei Matsumoto, 8. Finlay Milne, 5. Matthew Whatley, 6. Alex Palezevic, 9. Facundo Barbero, 10. Sam Mason-Smith, 11. Saul Halpin, 12. Ross Willox, 13. Ethan Dent, 14. Martin Canales Ramos, 16. Angus Kilkolly, 18. Lewis Tiller, 19. Nile Walwyn, 26. Ruben Parker (GK)
Coach: Brett Angell.
Team Wellington: 1. Scott Basalaj (GK), 2. Justin Gulley, 4. Guillermo Moretti, 5. Bill Robertson, 6. Taylor Schrijvers, 7. Leonardo Villa, 8. Cole Peverley, 9. Tom Jackson, 10. Cameron Howieson, 11. Mario Barcia, 12. Andy Bevin, 14. Billy Scott, 15. Joel Stevens, 16. Ben Harris, 18. Nicolas Zambrano, 21. Nico Kirwan, 22. James McPeake (GK)
Coach: José Figueira.