There are no other Tasman Tanning Premier clubs who can boast they currently have a test player who has the status of a Dan Carter or Beauden Barrett in his native country.

And while that country may only be ranked 85th on the IRB world standings, Utiku Old Boys are certainly pleased to have the services of Austrian import Max Navas, who joined the Taihape-based squad just under a fortnight ago.

"I always admired the Kiwi rugby culture and I am very happy to be here now," Navas said.

"I am always happy to share knowledge and always open to learn new things.


"I know I will give my best for the club - inside and outside of the field."

The 26-year-old, who can cover first-five or halfback, has 34 international caps for Austria and comes from the RU Donau Wien club, based in Vienna.

RU Donau Wien won the 2016 Austrian Premiership - their seventh premiership in eight years since Navas has played top grade for them.

He had an MVP club season last year, while in Tier 3 international games for Austria he was the top points scorer, landing 35 kicks from 43 attempts.

Navas is also a four-time Austrian Sevens champion with RU Donau Wien, while he joined the Berliner Rugby Club as they reached the semifinals of the larger German Premiership in 2013.

Therefore, with very little left to accomplish in Austria amongst a total playing pool of around 18 clubs and just over 1300 registered players, Navas has set his sights internationally and follows last year's footsteps of Irishman Gavin Thornbury with Waverley Harvesting Border, as well as the steady stream of Pacific Island players, in making landfall in Whanganui club rugby in order to develop and to be seen.

"It was a funny sort of contact. It was an agent that Justin Lock got us onto," said Utiku coach Matt Gilbert.

Agent Gabriel Morales said in a press release that his client is the top points scorer for the Austrian national team.

"Max is an iconic player in Austria. He is a strong No10 and a great kicker.

"He bring a solid international experience and will be a great asset for Utiku rugby.

"He is at the New Zealand provincial level and would be fantastic seen him playing the Mitre 10 Cup."

As a goal kicker, Max Navas converted 35 of 43 attempts for the Austria rugby team last year.
As a goal kicker, Max Navas converted 35 of 43 attempts for the Austria rugby team last year.

Gilbert said the draw card for getting Navas was he spoke good English, and had been looking at joining a North Harbour club before the opportunity fell through and he became available.

"He has spent a bit of time in South Africa, he was in that Sharks setup - their development programme.

"He wanted to test himself in New Zealand rugby."

Navas is currently doing some causal sheep work on the Gilbert farm, and his coach said the young man might be open to remaining in Taihape for more than one season if provincial opportunities open up for him.

"Playing for Utiku shouldn't be a disadvantage to make the Heartland team.

"If you're good enough, you're good enough."

Navas had a very rough introduction to Premier rugby on the week of his arrival when an understrength Utiku travelled to Ohakune to be hammered by McCarthy's Transport Ruapehu 88-7.

However, he proved the difference on Saturday in the home Memorial Park game against fellow cellar-dwellers Harvey Round Motors Ratana, with a 100 per cent kicking record of two penalties and two conversions in the 20-10 victory.

"He has settled in a bit better this week," said Gilbert.

"When you give it an honest shake - because everyone turned up this weekend."

Gilbert is hoping that Navas' arrival and Utiku's first win will be a shot in the arm for the team, especially as they gear up for the long 187km journey to play Settler's Honey Ngamatapouri this Saturday, with the home side also having their blood up after upsetting Utiku's neighbours PGG Wrightson/Balance Taihape.