Berny Hall had thought his representative rugby season was over.
That was until he received a call from Tenderlink Taranaki manager Shane McDonald on Sunday morning telling him that he had been called into the top side for the remainder of the NPC season.
The 23-year-old openside flanker replaces former All Black Scott Waldrom, who broke an arm in Saturday night's game against Northland in Whangarei.
"I saw Scott hobble off on Saturday, but didn't think too much of it. I thought it was just a stinger," said Hall after training in New Plymouth yesterday.
Hall had played what he thought was his last game of the season the week before when the Taranaki development side edged past Wellington in Wellington to finish the season unbeaten.
"I thought that was it, then the call," he said.
"I'm pretty stoked. I had a taste early playing the Ranfurly Shield games against King Country and Wanganui. It left me wanting more, but I knew the deal with Scott Waldrom and Chris Walker ahead of me . . . I had to bide my time."
Hall said selection had been a long time coming.
"I've had a rough couple of years with injuries. I've had a full knee reconstruction, a broken leg, an ankle operation and a broken eye socket," he said. "But this year, I've been injury-free. I worked hard in the off season and it's paid off."
Hall, whose father Peter played 33 games for Taranaki in the 1980s, said that when he left New Plymouth Boys' High School, he headed to Christchurch on a scholarship to Lincoln.
"I had five years down there and went through the grades. I made the Canterbury NPC squad last year, but broke my eye socket in a pre-season game and didn't even get a shot at it. They're pretty chocka-block down there with quality loosies so [I] decided to come home."
It's a move that's paying off for the 101kg, 1.84m loose forward who was a member of the 2009 IRB Junior World Cup-winning New Zealand under-20s team.
With Walker a certainty to start in the number seven jersey on Saturday against Manawatu, Hall is likely to be on the bench.
"If I get a chance, I have to grab it and give it everything," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News