In the space of little more than two seasons, Turbos lock Fraser Stone has gone from being a club player to one who must be catching the eye of Super Rugby coaches.
He has proved to be a rugged rooster, having played 28 games straight since making his debut in 2010 and not having left the field injured once.
Earlier this year he played for the Hurricanes development team against Samoa A at Porirua, so he must be on the periphery.
"I realised I'm not that far away if I perform," he said yesterday. "I'm just trying to play better than last year.
"I'd like to make a Super team for next season."
Forwards coach Wesley Clarke has asked the 26-year-old to work on his work-rate and no-one can fault him for that, even when the Turbos have perished. This year he has belted his 112kg frame about for 80 minutes in all four Manawatu matches.
He gets to study himself on video clips after every game before sitting down with the coaches.
Fellow lock Michael FitzGerald has grafted away since 2009, earned a season with the Chiefs and that must be an incentive for Stone.
For whatever reason, none of the lineout throws in the game against Wellington went Stone's way, but that has changed and he's nabbed them all.
"I don't worry who they go to as long as they're working."
The Turbos have arguably the best lineout around.
They lost one against Northland but they suspect Stone's former Kia Toa clubmate and now reserve Northland prop, Peni Kaufusi, remembered the calls from last year.
Stone came within a few days of being lost to Manawatu in 2010.
The Turbos had been running with FitzGerald, Reece Robinson, James Goode and Lisiate Fa'aoso.
But when the latter two stayed in Wales and France respectively, coach Dave Rennie found himself a lock short.
Stone didn't fancy another season with Manawatu B, had played for the Dolphin club in Cork, Ireland, and when Rennie called he had just signed with Perth club Wanneroo.
That was the call he had long been waiting for so he and his father Peter raised $2000 to buy their way out of the $5000 Perth contract.
"The Ireland thing didn't eventuate to much and I had to break that [Wanneroo] contract, but it has been good."
Robinson injured a hamstring against Counties-Manukau at Pukekohe and Stone got his first start four games into the 2010 campaign.
"I took my chance against Hawke's Bay and haven't looked back," Stone said.
He hurt his neck in the recent club season which put him out of the Kia Toa side for a few weeks, but better then than now.
Outside rugby he is a truck driver; that's his night job which allows him to train and hit the gym in daylight hours.
That's what he will do if the Super sides don't call. Five nights a week he drives a truck and trailer to Taupo, swaps the trailer and drives back to Palmerston North.
Now he just wants the "good feeling" from Whangarei to return after the Turbos were clobbered by Tasman on Sunday.
"They seemed to front better than us in the weather. Both teams had to play in it but it was very disappointing to lose like that at home."
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