Young Wellington Lion has huge opportunity

BY SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 05:00 31/07/2009
Shaun Treeby
PHIL REID/Dominion Post
MAKING WAVES: Shaun Treeby has made a big impression as an age-grade player and steps up tonight making his Air NZ Cup debut at second-five for Wellington in their clash with Otago.

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It's not quite a case of Shaun who, but outside of keen club and age-group rugby followers, you could be excused for not recognising the name of Wellington's new second-five.

Shaun Treeby a 20-year-old Tawa product is small in stature 1.74m and 86kg but big on reputation after a string of assured performances in New Zealand's successful under-20 World Cup campaign outside Manawatu first-five Aaron Cruden.

Treeby continued a rich vein of form in Wellington's pre-season and gets his big break against Otago tonight thanks to the absence of Michael Hobbs (injury) and Tamati Ellison (All Blacks).

His lack of size is compensated by a big heart and early impressions are of a player with a good rugby brain and slick distribution skills.

The final test was Wellington's pre-season win against Canterbury last Friday, when he held his own against Crusaders midfielders Ryan Crotty and Tim Bateman.

"My first Air New Zealand Cup game being a Ranfurly Shield game as well, it's a huge honour," Treeby said.

"It's been a big couple of months for me really. Obviously the under-20s, starting there and winning the championship was huge and now making the squad and starting in a shield match, it's another big step. It's come on really quick but I'm really enjoying it."

The pressure of a shield defence was eased by his recent big-match exposure in Japan as well as age-group experience playing between first-five Daniel Kirkpatrick and centre Robert Fruean.

"I've played a little bit with them both coming up through the grades.

"We're obviously quite young but we've got a lot of talent there and I'm sure we'll go all right. I know how they play so that's huge for me."

Treeby, who is building a house in Tawa, expects Otago to throw the kitchen sink at Wellington tonight.

"They're going to come at us very, very hard. The shield is on the line so they're going to do everything, chuck everything at us to try and get it off us. We're going to put our bodies on the line and do the same."

Wellington coach Jamie Joseph spoke highly of Treeby's dedication. "I just think in terms of his application and approach to rugby, it's really good, in fact outstanding.

"He's a very quiet man but he seems to get the job done on the paddock. He marked Crotty and Bateman last week, two Super 14 players who have been New Zealand juniors and he did that really well. I think that's a good sign for us and him."

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