D-Day looms for Begg as Makos' chances recede
Shawn Begg's at something of a loose end.
It's ironic that the Marist rugby halfback, who's just won this season's inaugural Nelson Mail-Leader Nelson Club Player of the Year Trophy competition, is contemplating taking his talents offshore in search of more top competition.
Having transferred this year from his former Stoke club, 28-year-old Begg's been in superb form as skipper of Marist's division one team, including finishing the recent Tasman Trophy series with an impressive 13 tries.
The race to find Nelson Bays' top club player has been tight though, Begg finishing just one point clear of dynamic Wanderers No 8 Tone Ng Shiu.
"I thought I played the best football I've played in a long time - maybe even in my senior career," Begg said.
"I think the change of environment and going to Marist helped that out. It was something different and a change for myself that helped.
"I was quite happy, specially after coming back from shoulder surgery last year. It was quite tough being out [of the game] and not knowing how you were going to heal.
"But I've come back, been fully fit and it's been a good season. I've stayed injury free, so it's been good."
It was the sort of form that Begg hoped might have caught the eyes of Tasman's ITM Cup selectors. However, with former All Blacks, Highlanders and Southland halfback Jimmy Cowan signing up for the Tasman Makos' ITM Cup squad last Friday, Begg acknowledged that his prospects of playing for the Makos have been significantly reduced.
They're by no means over, with the option of playing for the Tasman Griffins in the South Island competition - as a means to remaining in ITM Cup contention - still on the table.
"I thought the second halfback's spot would come from club rugby and I was reasonably confident that could possibly be me. But to hear that they signed Jimmy . . . it's good for the union but for other people playing here, it's not so good I guess.
"But that's rugby. It's a bit gutting, specially getting that award and then hearing that you didn't make the Makos, it's a bit of a kick in the teeth."
It means he's now got some quick decisions to make - either to head overseas or remain in Nelson.
"Because I feel I'm playing the best I've ever played, I would like to go somewhere that I'm challenged," he said.
"I think New Zealand's probably out of the equation now with all the ITM Cup [teams] being signed up. Maybe overseas could be an option for me still. Obviously it would need to be a very quick decision and I haven't actually made that decision yet.
"I'll have to do that over the next couple of days."
The Nelson Mail