When Tom Hughes headed for the dressingroom after leading his Manawatu under-20s to the Hurricanes title on Saturday he had one mission in mind for the summer.
The 20-year-old pointed to his slender frame and the mission to bulk it up before next winter rolls around.
Hughes is one of the tallest locks anywhere, at 2.03 metres, or 6 feet 8 inches in the old imperial measure.
There is no substitute for height at lineout time so the Manawatu Turbos have already contracted him for two seasons. That was done before the season started to ward off invaders.
But just now he weighs only 110 kilograms and knows he must lift that to 115 to 118kg.
"I've got a lot of fill out," he said.
"I played basketball back in the day and gave it all up for rugby. I love this."
After Saturday's win in the under-20s final over Wellington, Hughes was buzzing. He said nothing beats being in a team with players he has played alongside throughout his youth.
On Saturday, he took a whack to the nose straight after halftime and was left staggering for a while, dazed. He ran it off and saw out the match.
Earlier this season he trained with the Turbos for three weeks and revelled in it. He also played in their pre-season games against Bay of Plenty and Hawke's Bay.
Before that he trialled for the New Zealand under-20 team, but missed out on the team to France.
"That affected me," he said. "It led me to set new goals."
Hughes said there is nothing wrong with ambitious young players playing under-20s football.
"This is good rugby. Young guys want everything to happen so quickly."
So come next year Hughes will be back playing with Varsity, the same club his father Miles father played for. He played twice for Manawatu in 1982-83 and for New Zealand Universities.
In his first year out of Palmerston North Boys' High School, Tom began studying for a sport and exercise degree before taking this year off. He was a member of the Hurricanes Schools side in 2011 and in his younger days he played golf to Manawatu-Wanganui junior level, when he had more time to devote to it.
- © Fairfax NZ News