The Tasman Makos’ 43-27 Mitre 10 Cup Premiership final defeat to Canterbury signalled the end of an era for some key players, while midfielder Alex Nankivell showed why he may be the future of the franchise.
By his own admission, the 20-year-old was only looking for game time off the bench and “the odd start” when the season began, but by the final he was a key member of a championship-contending team.
If Alex looked left and right, he would have seen two Makos servants in Marty Banks and Kieron Fonotia, who were playing their last games in Makos colours.
However, the 100kg second-five didn’t look out of place despite playing against the province he supported growing up.
“This year has been one of massive improvement for me,” Alex says. “I wasn’t expecting the amount of game time I got but I tried to make the most of every opportunity.”
Alex says his second season with the franchise saw him become a more mature player ready to make good on potential instead of cruise on raw talent.
“Coming out of the Christchurch Boys’ High set-up I was too casual, I expected things to just happen here in year one because that’s what I was used to.
“What’s happened this year has been the outcome of a lot more hard work, me trying to be a better, smarter player rather than just relying on my size to do the job.”
As for the final itself, Alex says he felt Tasman played nervous rugby.
“We didn’t want to make mistakes, and, playing Canterbury with their history of success, it was something you want in a final but it’s a hard task.”
Alex now has the choice of where to play his club rugby.
He also hasn’t given up hope of a Super Rugby contract.
“There’s been some interest but I’ll leave that up to my agent to see if anything happens there.”