Gutsy openside flanker Fale Matamata transferred from the MAC club to Hastings Rugby and Sports this season so he could be mentored by Tivaini Fomai.
Former Samoa player Fomai, one of the Hastings Rugby and Sports assistant coaches, was also a regular in the No 7 jersey. He was the inaugural winner of the Hawke's Bay club rugby MVP award 11 years ago.
There are so many aspects of 19-year-old Matamata's play which takes one's memory back to when Fomai was the same age. Just like Fomai, Matamata, isn't the biggest of opensides but he has a huge heart, produces massive workrates consistently and is on track to match Fomai's season MVP feat.
Matamata produced his second player-of-the-match performance for Ansin & Monteith Hastings Rugby and Sports this season during Saturday's 39-12 victory against his old club at Flaxmere Park. In doing so became the ninth weekly winner in the battle to become the 2017 holder of the McDonalds-Hawke's Bay Today Club Rugby Player of the Year award.
Along with Napier Technical loosies Kaleb Sweet and Isaiah Martin, Matamata, has a one-point lead over Havelock North utility back Jesse Paewai at the top of the leaderboard.
"I just love playing hard and giving my all for the boys ... I'm learning a lot too," Matamata said.
A Hawke's Bay under-19 rep last year, Matamata, also represented the Bay at under-18 level. He started playing as a 4-year-old and came through the Hastings JAB system alongside Magpies winger Mason Emerson and Hurricanes and Magpies loosie Hugh Renton.
"Apart from last year at MAC and one year at Havelock in the junior grades all of my rugby outside of school grades has been for Hastings," Matamata recalled.
A younger brother of former Hastings Rugby and Sports prop Auga Matamata, he had two years in the Hastings Boys' High School 1st XV.
"They were tougher years than what the school is experiencing at the moment. I spent a lot of time in defence mode when we were playing big blokes from Wellington like Alex Fidow, Asafo Aumua and Thomas Umaga-Jensen who are all on this year's New Zealand under-20 team. Those seasons prepared me well for Hawke's Bay premier club rugby," Matamata explained.
He is confident Hastings Rugby and Sports will reach the semifinals of the Tui Maddison Trophy competition which begins this weekend. Among Matamata's list of goals are a berth in the Hawke's Bay Saracens team this year and one in the 2018 Magpies Mitre 10 Cup squad.
And his long-term one?
"The Samoan team ... you have to aim high," he replied.
A machine operator with City Care, Matamata described it "as one of the best jobs around".
"It fits in well around my training sessions."
It's obvious Fomai has got his protege doing everything right on and off the field.
Best & fairest
■ Hastings v MAC: 3, Fale Matamata (Hastings); 2, Jason Long (Hastings); 1, Amiga Mikaele (MAC).
■ NOBM v Pirate: 3, Craig Sharplin (NOBM); 2, Terry Marsh (NOBM); 1, Hayden Hann (Pirate).
■ Central v Tamatea: 3, Tomo Fogarty (Central); 2, Mason Kean (Tamatea); 1, Cole Eru (Central).
■ Havelock North v Tech: 3, Jonty Strong (Havelock); 2, Kaleb Sweet (Tech); 1, Chad Harris (Havelock).
■ Taradale v Clive: 3, Billy Ropiha (Taradale); 2, Yuki Nakamura (Clive); 1, Seiyu Kohara(Taradale).
Leaderboard: 9 points: Isaiah Martin, Kaleb Sweet (both Tech), Fale Matamata (Hastings). 8: Jesse Paewai (Havelock). 7: Cole Eru (Central). 6: Lucas Goodin (Clive), Hayden Hann (Pirate), Tomo Fogarty (Central), Billy Ropiha, Jacob Baker (both Taradale), Tom Bywater (NOBM), Jonty Strong (Havelock). 5: Chris Johnston, Craig Sharplin (both NOBM), Mason Kean (Tamatea), Ted Walters (Tech), Wayne Lush (Havelock).