It’s quite easy to overlook the fact that Marty Banks wasn’t actually selected in the Tasman Makos squad this year – remarkable considering it took just four games in the ITM Cup before the Hurricanes offered him a contract.
With Hayden Cripps the incumbent, Tasman selectors opted for first five cover in the form of utility Billy Guyton and the youthful Mike Wells of Motueka instead, when the squad was announced in July.
Fast forward three months and the curly haired 24 year old has already clocked up more than 100 points in five appearances, including a record setting 28 points in the round six win over Northland, he’s secured a Super 15 contract in Wellington, the NZ Herald has labelled him a “cult hero”, and more importantly, he’s steering the Makos towards the ITM Cup Championship finals. “It only happened less than a week ago and they called me. It was going to be a wider training squad role but by the Saturday at five o’clock they bumped it up to a full contract and I signed my part on Tuesday, they signed their part on Wednesday. It all happened in about five days,” Marty says, reflecting on his whirlwind week, inking a contract that could see him play in the same backline as All Blacks TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Julian Savea, Conrad Smith and Cory Jane. “Up until Saturday I hadn’t even thought of a Super 15 contract. I was actually looking for work after ITM Cup. That’s how far away playing Super Rugby was from me.”
Describing it as “out of the blue” and “a bit of a shock”, Marty will happily put his sales career on hold as he chances his dream of being a professional rugby player in the capital. “It is surreal. I played four games and I got offered it after that. But the way the Makos are going a lot of the boys are being looked at and I was just lucky to be one of them,” he says modestly.
But it’s certainly been a year of up and downs. Marty was left reeling in July when his decision to step out of Buller, who he helped win the Heartland Championship’s Lochore Cup, seemed to have backfired, missing out on the Tasman Makos just days before winning the club rugby season with Waimea Old Boys.
However, he was eventually given his chance to prove the selectors wrong when injuries to Hayden Cripps and Robbie Malneek gave Marty the opportunity to come into the Tasman squad and he hasn’t looked back. His reliability, accurate kicking, and monstrous points tally has seen him become one of the competition’s form players and while he openly admits he’s more comfortable at fullback, Marty should wear the number ten jersey come finals time.
Tasman has struggled in the first five department ever since the team’s inception. Ben Gollings, Tim Taylor, Miah Nikora, James Marshall, Andrew Goodman, Robbie Malneek, Daniel Hawkins and James Proctor were all tried with varying success – some not up to the grade and others better suited in other positions. But now Tasman seems to have found their man, and surely they will be doing everything they can to keep him here. The timing of asking Marty the final question ‘are you keen to stick around at the Tasman Makos next year?’ seemed perfect as CEO Andrew Flexman walked in the room, and his answer was one everyone in Nelson and Blenheim will be happy about. “I will definitely sign with Tasman, I’m definitely looking to and Andrew knows that.”