Putting in  the hard yards before becoming a professional rugby player paid off for Ruatangata's Scott Linklater who has taken up the job of facility manager at Whangarei's Aquatic Centre.
He picks up the  role after a stellar rugby career including  four years as a  hooker for the Waikato Chiefs,  three Churchill Cup wins with New Zealand Maori and a two-year stint playing for Bristol in England.
Mr Linklater, 30, grew up in Whangarei, attending Matarau School and Kamo High School. He studied for a diploma in sports science at Otago Institute of Sport before cross-crediting to a Bachelor of Sport Science at Waikato Institute of Technology.
After graduating, he spent three years working as a personal trainer, at times assisting the Chiefs.
 The Bristol experience opened his eyes to another rugby-playing culture, he said.
"They get all emotional and forget about their game plans, which makes decision-making a little bit difficult - but they were very supportive of us Kiwis, inviting us out to barbecues and getting us involved."

 With his contract coming to an end, Mr Linklater said he was wondering what to do next.
"I was coming to the later part of my career, saw the job advertised and thought I'll have a crack."
After flying around the world being paid good money for playing rugby it could be daunting to be suddenly contemplating a 9am-5pm job, Mr Linklater said.
"Luckily I'd done my study earlier but it's something all professional rugby players come across."

 Mr Linklater put his name in the hat for the Whangarei role  because he was passionate about health and fitness and this was his home town. He has a team of 35 staff. Since starting four weeks ago, he has been learning how  each department works and taking part in a Water Treatment and First Aid course.