Former Waimea College rugby captain Caleb Delany made his debut for Wellington in their provincial competition win over Auckland on Sunday.
It capped a rapid-rise for the 20-year-old, who was recruited by Tasman but chose Wellington to enable him to continue his studies in architecture.
In 2017, the loose-forward was part of the Waimea Combined team which beat Nelson College 38-24.
The lock and loose forward was aggressively pursued by Tasman, but a desire to take up a scholarship from Old Boys University lured Delany North.
He has since impressed for both his club and Wellington Under-19s.
Delany says he is happy to fly under the radar.
“Kids from bigger schools have a lot of pressure on them but I’m just looking for an opportunity.
He says his debut on Sunday was a real thrill.
“Being around All Blacks and soaking all that up was great,” he says.
“I’m not used to being on the bench so I tried to control my nerves until my opportunity came.”
Caleb says his preferred position is No 6 but he was happy to slot-in at lock.
“I’ve been trying to put on another 5kg, which will happen.
“I’ve gotten faster since high school. I just need to bulk-up a bit.“
Caleb says when he first came to Wellington he wanted to split his time between rugby and his studies, but now believed rugby would take centre-stage.
“I feel like I have a limited window to try rugby and see how far I can get,” he says.
“Being from Waimea, I’m comfortable with being the underdog and just letting things take their own path.”
Rugby was not the automatic choice for Caleb. In addition to a basketball appetite, he was a softball catcher in the summer who earned selection for the Junior Black Sox.