Teenage recruit Lio Tosi stands out as he makes the shift to Southland
Former New Zealand secondary school rugby league representative Lio Tosi has stood out in his introduction to Southland rugby.
At 128kg and over 1.9m tall, it is hard for the 18-year-old not to capture some attention.
Tosi has made the shift south this year from Rotorua where he has linked with the Rugby Southland academy and hopes to progress through the ranks in the deep south.
Originally from Levin, Tosi was offered a scholarship by Rotorua Boys' High School to head north for his Year 11 year at school.
He spent three years in the school's first XV which included helping them win the Chiefs regional secondary schools competition in 2015.
Last season they were toppled by Hamilton Boys' High School in the semifinals.
During his school days, he also captured the interest of national rugby league talent scouts and played for both the New Zealand secondary schools and under-16 teams against New South Wales.
Tosi hasn't ruled out picking up the 13-man code again, but for the moment his focus was very much on rugby and attempting to make a mark in Southland.
"I want to one day become a Stag. But really at the moment I just want to play good footy down here."
Rugby Southland has developed a link with Rotorua Boys' High School with Tosi one of three players to shift south this year to play their first season of senior rugby.
The other two are frontrowers, Sy Waiti and Jaya More, who have linked with the Star and Barbarians clubs respectively.
Tosi has slotted into the No 8 role for Marist.
After three weeks of the competition, and with Marist at the top of the table, it is a decision he is delighted he made.
"I'm loving the club. They are really good to me, so I'm lucky I came to Marist."
The teenager admits it has taken some adjusting as far as switching from playing in the schoolboy ranks to his first season lining up in senior club rugby.
"It's a lot more physical and it is a bit faster than school rugby. I'm still trying to adapt to how fast the game is," he said.
Tosi said while a large number of the successful Rotorua Boys' team remained up north the opportunity to test himself somewhere different prompted him to agree to make the shift south.
"Most of my mates signed contracts up north and I just didn't want to be that guy that followed his mates. I kind of wanted to make my own path in rugby and start here."
His next assignment with Marist will be against Blues at Miller St.
Blues have shown some encouraging improvement this season with the style they are playing but Marist will be favoured to pick up the win on Saturday.
Marist have banked maximum points through the first three rounds of the competition.
Pirates-Old Boys and Star will meet at Surrey Park as both clubs search for their first wins of the season.
In the third premier game, Woodlands and the Barbarians will square-off at Rugby Park.
At a glance
(Premier, round 4)
Pirates-Old Boys v Star, 1pm at Surrey Park
Marist v Blues, 1pm at Miller St
Woodlands v Barbarians, 3p at Rugby Park