Jack Winson has heard and seen how successful his Napier Old Boys Marist rugby clubmate Michael Buckley's switch from the forwards to the backs has been.

Former loosie Buckley played on the wing for NOBM last year in his first season after returning from Wellington and was the top tryscorer in premier club rugby with 35.

He made eight first class appearances for the Magpies and scored two memorable tries.

Naturally Winson, 22, who is eyeing the vacant centre's berth in the Green Machine's backline hopes to complete a similar switch.

Advertisement

NOBM's Magpies centre Shae Tucker has returned to Dunedin to complete some study commitments and won't be available for NOBM until the Maddison Trophy rounds.

A former loosie, Winson, had two years in the NBHS first XV, one in 2013 under the captaincy of Sam McNicol and another in the Caleb Makene-captained 2014 team.

He is enjoying his midfield role and NOBM coach Craig Gowler believes Winson has all the attributes to do well in the position.

"Jack has a similar build to Shae and has got plenty of pace. I can't wait to see how he goes against some strong opponents this weekend," Gowler said referring to today's New Zealand Marist Spillane Cup tournament in New Plymouth where NOBM will aim for a third consecutive title.

"I'm enjoying centre because there is a bit more space. But after three years out of the game because of injuries I know I have a lot of work to do," Winsom, a product of the Eskview JAB system, said.

While studying physical education at Otago University Winson missed three seasons with knee and shoulder injuries.

"Now I'm back I'm looking to learn things in a new position. The likes of Michael [Buckley] and Kaleb Whakataka [another former flanker who made a successful switch to the midfield] who are both former teammates of mine have shown it can be done," Unison worker Winson said.

"Understanding the defensive lines is my biggest work on. There is a bit more space to operate in ... I'm used to defending in close," he added.

Advertisement

NOBM, who have scored convincing wins in both of their pre-season outings, will play Hutt Old Boys Marist at 10.20am today, the same time Hastings Rugby and Sports take on Marist St Pats of Wellington.

The two winners will play in the 4.30pm final and the two losers will play in the 3.15pm battle for third place.

The loser of the 3.15pm game will be relegated to the Ham Cumming Cup division two competition for next year.

Gowler pointed out several of his key players including hooker Jack Nelson-Murray, prop Terry Marsh, loosie Pouvi Fatialofa, outside back Liam Edwards and inside back Paul Bickle were all unavailable for the trip west.

"I'm not overly confident of retaining the title. But we will have a competitive side and will give it our best shot," Gowler said.

"From what I hear Hutt Old Boys Marist have a very solid team. Marist St Pats have a new coaching staff and two have two Hawke's Bay teams in this top division is good for both teams as we look ahead to the start of the Nash Cup here in the Bay the following week," Gowler added.