The Tasman Makos are proving themselves as handy off the field as they are on it.
The rugby team was at Nelson ITM's building yard practising their hammer hand skills as part of a professional development exercise yesterday.
The players were broken up into four mini-teams to undertake the task of designing and constructing a grandstand for their team room.
Mako lock Joe Wheeler said the players had mini-team activities each week with a mixture of different player positions in each group.
"We try keep it competitive and keep the stimulus there for the boys as well because it's quite enjoyable when you're in a mini-team and you're competing against your own team mates - it's good times."
He said it was great for bonding and the competitive side brought out the best in all the players.
"It's also teaching us some good skills as well. It is cool," said Wheeler.
"The guys that are pretty keen on it generally lead the way if they've got a bit of building experience as the leaders or foreman as they call them here."
Local Dave Havilo, 19, was one such team leader as he is doing his building apprenticeship in the off-season.
The utility backs player said it was a chance to help his team mates off the field and it was good working together and solving problems as "it was exactly like playing on the field".
"Some of boys don't know what they are doing so I've got to help them out," he said.
"During the rugby and that they help me out quite a bit so I can pay them back with something I know."
Havilo said it was good to have another career option outside of rugby to fall back on in case of injury or missing selection.
Four builders from Tasman Homes kept an eye on the each team as they all exchanged banter.
Tasman Homes owner Garry Nott said it was a chance for the players to practise communication and planning, which was always needed in a game.
Former All Black lock Chris Jack, who has been doing a building apprenticeship since finishing his rugby career, surprised the players as a "celebrity judge" for the grandstands.
Makos professional development manager Patrick Smith organised the day as he helps the players build skills and careers outside of rugby so when they leave the sport or were injured they could still support themselves.
The players are fulltime for the Makos between August and mid-October when they all take up residence in Nelson for the ITM cup season.
Outside of the professional season some were already builders while others were fulltime rugby players with Super 15 contracts.
- The Tasman Makos will kick off their first game of the season against Hawke's Bay at Lansdowne Park in Blenheim on Sunday at 2.35pm.
- The Nelson Mail