Talk about a week to remember for Clive rugby lock Donovan Mataira.
Three days after playing against one of the best locks the professional era has produced, All Black Brodie Retallick, Mataira was told he had won the 2019 McDonald's-Hawke's Bay Today Club Rugby Player of the Year MVP award.
"I was shocked as I hadn't been keeping a close eye on the MVP leaderboard in recent weeks," remarked 19-year-old Mataira.
"I've got to be happy with it as this is my first season out of school rugby," Mataira said.
The former Hastings Boys' High School 1st XV player shook off a hip injury and was a powerful figure for Tremains Andrew Clark Clive in their 26-15 loss to Retallick's Northfuels Central team in Waipukurau on Saturday.
"I was supposed to play half a game but when one of our other players got injured I ended up playing the full 80. I was stuffed ... lucky it was our last game and I can have a bit of time out to recover," Mataira said.
"It was awesome to play against Brodie. It was easy to see the difference between club and first class players. His fitness and strength is far superior and he's huge. I made sure my mates and I got a photo with him," Mataira said.
After a short recovery period Mataira's focus will turn to securing a starting berth in the Hawke's Bay Saracens side which will take on the Horowhenua Heartland Championship side in Levin on July 27.
A first-year EIT sport and recreation course student, Mataira didn't make any Hawke's Bay age group representative teams earlier in his career. However, his Clive head coach, Vaine Maui, is adamant Mataira will make the Magpies Mitre 10 Cup squad next year if he doesn't get game time for the side this season.
"Donny has made giant strides in his first year out of Hastings Boys' High School. He has developed well at premier club levels and if he keeps working hard Magpies selection will definitely come," Maui said.
Earlier this season Mataira said improving his fitness levels and position specifics including movement were his works on. With an outstanding display for the Hawke's Bay XV in the Queen's Birthday win against Wairarapa Bush he proved how well he had addressed these issues.
The winning of this award is further proof. He beat Altherm Window Systems Napier Technical lock Elijah Martin by one point in the tussle for the award.
Mataira ranked Martin as one of the toughest locks he had marked in the competition ... after Retallick.
Best & Fairest
Central v Clive: 3, McKenzie Smith (Central); 2, Donovan Mataira (Clive); 1, Mathias Konia (Central).
NOBM v Tamatea: 3, Michael Buckley (NOBM); 2, Migao Lauano (NOBM); 1, Stacey Ili (NOBM).
Taradale v Havelock North: 3, Namatahi Waa (Taradale); 2, Jody Allen (Taradale); 1, Jesse Paewai (Havelock North).
Hastings v Pirate: 3, Danya Tulou (Hastings); 2, Tom Nicol (Pirate); 1, Antonio Mikaele-Tu'u.
MAC v Tech: 3, Fa'alemiga Selesele (MAC); 2, Elijah Martin (Tech); 1, Damarus Hokianga (MAC).
Final standings: 16pts: Donovan Mataira (Clive). 15pts: Elijah Martin (Tech). 11pts: Albert Hemopo (Havelock North), Paula Latu (MAC). 10pts: Saia Paese (NOBM). 9pts: Sean Skeet (NOBM), Eru Wano (Taradale), Jayden Rihia (Hastings), Lincoln McClutchie (Tamatea). 8pts: Zac Donaldson (NOBM), Ted Walters (Tech).