Arrowtown prop Ryan McMaster is Central Otago’s biggest rugby player and one of its most committed – he lives 150km away.
Every Thursday, the 130kg builder nicknamed Rhino drives 90 minutes to training in Arrowtown from eastern Southland’s Balfour – then he stays over for Saturday’s game before returning home on Sunday.
“It’s a commitment but it’s really worth it,” the 25-year-old man-mountain says.
McMaster’s team is undefeated after 10 games this season and last Saturday repelled Alexandra’s White Horse Cup challenge 18-0.
The giant prop is an ex-Arrowtown resident and first played for the local side in 2004.
Last season he managed the team after being unable to play because of a knee problem – but he came right for a player-of-the-match performance as the side took out the Otago Countrywide final against Lawrence in the season finale.
This season McMaster has only missed Arrowtown’s first game, and suffered his sole loss while playing for Central Otago in their Topp Cup match against South Otago.
Another player showing some commitment in his first season with Arrowtown is 18-year-old flanker Todd Adolph.
He missed the start of last Saturday’s game when his plane from Christchurch was diverted to Invercargill – but Adolph hired a rental car and hightailed it home, joining in just after halftime at Jack Reid Park.
This Saturday Arrowtown go over the Crown Range to play third-placed Upper Clutha, while the Wakatipu Premiers – who moved to second spot by thrashing Clyde-Earnscleugh 43-0 last weekend – take on Maniototo at Queenstown’s Recreation Ground.
Wakatipu co-coach Clark Frew expects a “very very tough” challenge from Maniototo, who are in fifth spot on the table and will be desperate for a top-four placing.
Frew, whose men were beaten 16-15 by Maniototo in the first round, says it’s “imperative” they win. “We can’t catch Arrowtown but our objective is to finish second and get a home semi-final.”
Premiers: Wakatipu v Maniototo, 2.45pm, Queenstown Rec Ground;
Arrowtown v Upper Clutha, Wanaka, 2.45pm