Watching prop Teu Sami sprint 80m, outpacing a winger and fullback on his way to the try-line, you’d be forgiven for thinking he was wearing the wrong number on his jersey.
The mammoth Marist man scored the sensational try against fellow table-toppers Waimea Old Boys earlier this month, helping the green machine maintain its perfect record to start the season.
Standing at 6’1” and weighing almost 120kg, Teu is already a daunting prospect to tackle, let alone in full flight, and proved impossible to bring down as he eyed the line.
“I felt someone breathing down my neck, I didn’t think I was going to make it, but I did, just.”
He says he was running on pure adrenaline which was “exhilarating”.
Teu is no stranger to the try-line, having previously played winger in rugby league.
He was even on the radar of the Melbourne Storm before shifting his focus to one code.
The former Nelson College student says the decision was made after seeing a clearer career pathway in rugby.
Having grown up idolising the likes of Manu Vatuvei and Konrad Hurrell, Teu now emulates the more traditional skills of All Blacks props Joe Moody and Owen Franks.
The 21-year-old says his scrummaging has come a long way thanks to the tutelage of Marist coach Gavin Briggs.
“In my first year I didn’t win many scrums, I knew nothing about technique.”
The loosehead says his side’s unbeaten run can be attributed to the close bond in the Marist side.
“We are all willing to play for each other.”
Teu was invited to train with the Tasman squad in 2017 and says getting a taste of the Mako environment made him hungry for more.
He says he wants to crack the squad again this season but faces stiff competition.
“There are a lot of good props, so it will not be an easy challenge.”
The bruising battle against Waimea took a toll on Marist who lost three key forwards to injury Teu, Te Puhoe Stephens and Taina Fox- Matamua, who were all out of Saturdays game.
However, the under-strength Marist side proved why it remains unbeaten in 2019 with an impressive 34-25 win over Waitohi.
The green machine showed it has enough depth in the ranks to survive a late comeback from the top placed Blenheim side.
Marist 34 (Sami, Spowart, Stevenson, Tau’alupe, Taylor, Hawkey 1 con, Robinson 1 pen 2 cons)
Waitohi 25 (Taylor, Bovey, Fangatua tries, Bovey 2 pens 2 cons)
Elsewhere, Nelson got its season back on track with a crushing win over Renwick.
Wanderers also keep its playoff hopes alive with a 33-22 win over East Coast while Stoke hammered Moutere and Central edged Kahurangi.
Marist 34 def Waitohi 25
Nelson 43 def Renwick 7
Stoke 67 def Moutere 10
Wanderers 33 def East Coast 22
Central 27 def Kahurangi 19