He expected to be playing club rugby, but some strong performances for his Athletic Marist Club team and the North Otago Development side have led Ben Palmer to a place in the Old Golds.
Although Palmer missed out on the tour to the Pacific Islands, he has featured in the first two Heartland Championship games and looks set for an extended run in the side.
Against Buller, he came on for the final 10 minutes, but last week Palmer was given the last 35 minutes to show the coaches his talent.
“I’m really happy with how I went in the weekend. I played most of the second half and was really pleased with my game and felt it went up a level from last weekend,” he said.
Standing at 1.74m and weighing a little over 80kg, Palmer might be seen as too small for the physicality of the game, but he said this was what he enjoyed most.
“I feel being small is actually an advantage for myself, as people look to target me because of my size, but I enjoy the confrontational side of it.”
Palmer is from Coventry in England, and plays for the Bronsgrove National Two side.
He said the style of rugby in New Zealand suited his game.
“The attacking nature of rugby over here and the harder grounds have improved my rugby a lot since I’ve been here.”
He first started playing rugby when he was four years old and is still loving it.
“I’m enjoying it and hopefully can come back next season or play in a higher grade back home.”
For the immediate future, his goal is to continue to make the Heartland team each week and force his way into the starting team with some strong performances.
“I want to start, that’s the ultimate goal, but at the same time, getting minutes under my belt is great.”
He said he hoped to be part of the 22 to tackle Wanganui on Saturday.
By BRAYDEN LINDSAY
PHOTO: BRAYDEN LINDSAY
ACCURATE: Replacement first-five Ben Palmer looks to add more points to North Otago’s tally on Saturday.