No1 man continues to impress
It took a couple of people to have a quiet word in his ear, but Tim Perry has the bit between his teeth this season and the results are clear to see.
One-third of the Harlequins premier side's powerful front row, the burly Ashburton-born prop has been in menacing form at the start of his second season in the Marlborough competition. Along with his trademark presence at scrum time, his powerful ball-running and strong all-round play was one of the crucial components in Quins winning their first four games of the season and wrapping up round one honours.
While Quins' form has fallen away slightly, the man in the No1 jersey has continued to impress and, after playing for the Tasman B side last season, he has a big chance of becoming a fully-fledged Mako this year.
Following a solid 2011 season, the 23-year-old Tim, a shepherd on Tyntesfield farm in the Waihopai Valley, said it was a tap on the shoulder from several people, including former Marlborough rugby area manager Aaron Senior, which jolted him into action.
"A few people had a chat to me [after last season] and reminded me you can always do the other stuff when you're older, but you only get one crack at rugby when you're younger so you may as well give it your best shot. I guess that has just sort of sunk in this year.
"I probably had a week off after Tasman Bs and then we got straight into [pre-season work]. I had a bit of weight to lose, strength to gain and my fitness needed a bit of work as well.
"People said to me if I did the work I could have a crack at the Makos. That's when I realised it could be a reachable goal and that's when the work started ... I've just realised you only get one shot, so I may as well go hard and see what happens."
The payoffs from all the pre-season effort have been evident, and while it was tough to start with, Tim said it did not take long before the strict training regime became addictive. Being fitter and stronger meant rather than working his way into it he hit the ground running.
The Marlborough and Tasman selectors will be delighted with his form, because he arrived in Marlborough from Rakaia early last year with some impressive credentials.
The son of former Mid-Canterbury hooker Grant Perry, who played one game for the All Blacks on their 1980 tour of Fiji, he had come off a superb 2010 season with Mid-Canterbury. He made the New Zealand Heartland team that year and was one of three players nominated for Heartland player of the year award.
Prior to that he won the Christchurch Colts competition with the Christchurch club and made the Canterbury under-19 side in 2007.
In 2006, his last year at St Andrew's College, he played in the New Zealand Secondary Schools team alongside MBC old boys Quentin MacDonald and Hamish Cochrane and a host of players who have since graduated to Super Rugby and the All Blacks.
"It was pretty awesome to make the New Zealand schools team. Doing the haka and singing the anthem when we played the Aussies is definitely a memory that stands out."
A no-frills country lad, who grew up on the family farm in Ashburton before heading off to board at St Andrews, Tim has had size and a strong pedigree in the sport on his side from day one.
Success has never been taken for granted, though. While he clearly has a fair chunk of natural talent, Tim said the support of his parents Grant and Brenda and both sets of grandparents had been vital.
However, it has been his own commitment to training, including being prepared to give up much of the time he used to spend hunting, fishing or socialising, that has been the most important factor behind the strides he has taken over the past six months.
With fitness, strength and age on his side, this no-nonsense front rower has bigger fish to fry.
"It would be good to try and make a professional team and see where that takes me.
"I just want to play to my potential, learn all I can and constantly become a better player. It would be good to go overseas and try and earn a bit of money and have a bit of a look around and maybe come home with something behind me ... I always sort of thought that's what I'd do before I get too old."
WEEKLY SPORTS STAR
Name: Tim Perry.
Born: Ashburton, August 1, 1988.
Educated: Lauriston Primary, Ashburton Intermediate, St Andrew's College.
Earliest sporting hero: Jonah Lomu.
Latest sporting hero: Le Bron James.
Must-watch TV programme: Sons of Anarchy.
Must-have food: Mum's shepherds pie.
What's hot on your MP3 player (walkman/stereo): Van Halen - Jump.
Favourite holiday spot: Middle Hut, Dansey's Pass.
Superstitions: Don't know if I have one.
Pet hates: People hitting their teeth with their cutlery.
Fashion crime: Owning a pink T-shirt.
Favourite sporting moment: Doing haka to Australian Schools Team before test.
Worst sporting moment: Breaking my leg.
In five years I'll be: Buggered, ha ha.