Lam rip­ping apart de­fences

The Dominion Post - - Sport - HAMISH BID­WELL

Here’s a hobby that speaks vol­umes.

It’s not that Hur­ri­canes wing Ben Lam isn’t friendly. He’s ac­tu­ally very good and in­tel­li­gent com­pany, with plenty of worth­while things to say. It’s just that 26-year-old spends his work­ing life be­ing looked at and judged by peo­ple. That’s partly why he en­joys a more soli­tary pur­suit in his spare time.

‘‘Div­ing,’’ Lam said, qui­etly. ‘‘I’ve started div­ing around Breaker Bay and try­ing to find lit­tle spots to get away from it all. It’s re­ally good be­ing un­der wa­ter. You have your own thoughts and there’s noth­ing else un­der there. Or hope­fully not any­thing else un­der there.’’

It’s not just the peace. For Lam, there’s a semipro­fes­sional el­e­ment to div­ing as well.

Af­ter the left wing scored four of his nine tries for this sea­son, in the re­cent rout of the Rebels, Hur­ri­canes coach Chris Boyd said Lam had two de­grees. Not quite.

‘‘I still have a year left on my marine science and geography de­gree,’’ said Lam.

It’s been slow go­ing of late, but he hopes to get it all fin­ished. He’d been keen on geography at Auckland’s St Peter’s Col­lege and the marine science part ap­pealed too.

‘‘It’s heaps of field work, a lot of land sur­vey­ing and work around vol­canos and stuff like that. I like the out­doors and hand-on stuff.’’

Lam’s listed at 1.91-me­tres and 110 kilo­grams, on the Hur­ri­canes’ web­site. That makes him a big man by any­one’s mea­sure. Only he’s not just big, but lethally quick.

He was a sub 11-sec­ond 100-me­tre sprinter at school and while he’s a few kilo­grams heav­ier these days, the raw pace re­mains.

In­juries and a lack of faith from the odd coach meant Lam wasn’t able to fully de­liver on his po­ten­tial un­til now. He knows there’s still lots to im­prove on, but he’s rev­el­ling in the con­sis­tent ga­me­time.

‘‘It’s a re­lief more than any­thing for me to show that I can do what I know I can do,’’ he said.

The Hur­ri­canes have re­warded Lam’s im­pres­sive show­ings with a con­tract ex­ten­sion, that’ll keep him in Welling­ton un­til af­ter the 2020 sea­son. It’s all helped to make him feel he be­longs, on and off the park. As has a spot in the lat­est ad­di­tion to the Hur­ri­canes’ so­cial scene.

‘‘We have a book club. Me, Ardie Savea, Chris Eves and Blade Thom­son,’’ said Lam.

‘‘We’re try­ing to read the same book and ex­pand our learn­ing and try and do things out­side of rugby and take the fo­cus away from rugby all the time.

‘‘So we all come up with one book and we de­cide a time when we’re all free. It’s still early days.

‘‘We’ve read Wink, which is a good book, a life-les­son book, and we’re cur­rently try­ing to read The Girl on the Train. It’s still early. We weren’t re­ally big read­ers be­fore this, so we’re try­ing to fig­ure out how it’s all go­ing to work.’’

Hur­ri­canes wing Ben Lam, seen here strteak­ing away from the Chiefs’ Brodie Re­tal­lick, is Su­per Rugby’s top tryscorer so far this sea­son.

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