As someone with the body shape of a concrete mixer on legs, Bronson Murray does not conjure up images of an equestrian.
Yet the born-and-bred Northlander loves nothing better than hopping onto a horse and chasing porkers on his family's 404ha Whangape farm.
Considering Murray is listed at 117kg, it is a good thing the horses he rides have a dash of clydesdale in them; the heavy-set animals can not only cope with his weight, they are a valuable asset on the steep, coastal farm near Hokianga.
"I like big horses. I don't muck around with little ponies," the Crusaders tighthead prop said. "We have got a bit of clydesdale in them now, which is good for hunting.
"I was born on a horse and a motorbike. When we were growing up we were hard-out into horses and that sort of thing.
"I do a lot of hunting on horses ... pig-hunting is a pretty big thing."
Murray, a member of the Blues squad last year, made one Super 14 appearance before being snapped up in the draft. He shifted to Christchurch this season.
With tighthead specialists Greg Somerville and Campbell Johnstone now overseas, All Black Ben Franks took over the Crusaders' No3 jersey. But a foot injury ended his season and Murray, 26, was given starts against the Western Force and the Waratahs.
The move south has ended any chances of heading into the Northland great outdoors and the Tasman Sea with his diving gear for the moment, anyway but it does not prevent him from thinking about what lies in wait.
"Diving is big up our way, for crays and pauas. We have a cool little beach up there that is hard to get to. It's quite fruitful, I would say; it doesn't get too much of a hammering from people."
Tomorrow night Murray will pack down against the Stormers, a match that, if the Crusaders win, could provide a pivotal turning point to their season.
Other Northlanders who moved to the chilly climes of the South Island to link up with the Crusaders were Norm Maxwell and Norm Berryman, both of whom brought their inimitable laidback style to the franchise.
After the round eight match against the Bulls the Crusaders have the bye, and Murray will surely be tempted to nip back home for a few days to unwind.
Although he has been contracted to Canterbury for the Air New Zealand Cup, he will be loaned back to Northland, where he will be closer to home and can do part-time work in Whangarei.
If he has a few days off, he might even get the chance to nail a pig bigger than the 140kg monster he and his cousin once shot.
"It took a couple of hours to get it out ... we had a good feed after that."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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