Smith holds his spot

South Waikato News - - SPORT -

Toby Smith was just 19 when he first propped against Hawke’s Bay in Napier as a re­place­ment off of the bench.

Two years on Smith has be­come a fix­ture in the Waikato front row at the ten­der age of 21. He started in Satur­day’s 27-27 draw against the Mag­pies, scor­ing his side’s fourth try.

The young prop is push­ing hard for a place in next year’s Chiefs Su­per 15 squad in his own right af­ter this year mak­ing six ap­pear­ances for the Chiefs from the wider train­ing group.

It is a mark of just how firmly Smith has es­tab­lished him­self in the Waikato front row at loose­head prop this year that, af­ter missing last week’s away win over North Har­bour with a ham­string strain, he has im­me­di­ately re­claimed his place at the ex­pense of Ben May, who got valu­able game time in that match on his re­turn from long-term knee and back in­juries.

‘‘I was pretty happy to get back into it so fast. . . know­ing I’m 100 per cent,’’ Smith said.

You might have thought in­jury lay­off was a wel­come break for Smith af­ter start­ing the first five matches of the ITM Cup, but such is the com­pe­ti­tion for places in the Waikato tight five that he would have pre­ferred not to have given May the chance to get his po­si­tion back.

‘‘Bam (Ben May) had a good game [last week] and scrums re­ally well so it was good to get back,’’ Smith said.

The young man who has nine pa­pers left to com­plete his busi­ness man­age­ment de­gree at Waikato Uni­ver­sity, but whose stud­ies are on hold, has his sights firmly fixed on prov­ing to the Chiefs coaches that he is wor­thy of a Su­per 15 con­tract.

Judg­ing by his strong play so far he is cer­tainly mak­ing his mark.

‘‘I’ve got to work on a few things around scrum time and also around the field, but I’m just try­ing to build my con­fi­dence and get bet­ter week by week.’’

Reg­u­lar game time has helped af­ter com­ing back from a shoul­der re­con­struc­tion that side­lined him last sea­son.

‘‘With my in­juries, and com­ing off the bench other years, it was hard to build any mo­men­tum or con­fi­dence, but get­ting quite a bit of game time this year has def­i­nitely helped.

‘‘Be­ing in there week to week you can build on things and start to get a bit of a flow go­ing in your game.’’ – Waikato Times

FIRST PICK: Hard work has earned Toby Smith a reg­u­lar start­ing spot for Waikato.

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