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Mud and games .. Valley No 8 Jake Greenslade takes off during the Citizens Shield semifinal against Excelsior at Weston on July 29. Excelsior players are Tom MacDonald (left) and Carn Parata. PHOTO: PHIL JANSSEN

Jake Greenslade is about to become the latest in a long line of young North Otago players heading overseas to gain some rugby and life experience. He talks to Hayden Meiklebefore he hops on a plane to Portugal.

Q: How old are you, Jake?
I’ve just turned 21.

Q: What do you do for a crust?
I’m an apprentice builder for David Reid Homes – Aaron Mackay Building. I started in 2015 and I’ve got a year and a-half to go. I love it. It’s a really good job.

Q: How did you enjoy the club rugby season with Valley?
It was awesome. Obviously it was one of the best seasons we’ve had in a while, and it was a great experience to play in the final. We nearly got there.  It was a good group of guys. A few blokes are really experienced but otherwise we’re all in our early or mid 20s, and we all like to socialise with each other.

Q: And you’ve got good family support out there?
Yeah, my old man is pretty much at every game, and Mum normally works on Saturdays but she gets to as many as she can, and my granddad also tries to get to every game.

Q: Are you a hooker or a No8?
Hah. Yeah, I’m a front-rower. That’s where I’m going to end up. I would have been hooker this year if our No 8, Sean Conlan, didn’t go down with a knee injury. I ended up at the back of the scrum and I don’t mind it.  I started as a loose forward at school but I ended up at loosehead prop because we were short. I always knew I’d end up in the front row because of my height.

Q: What do you love about rugby?
Just doing it for a team. Doing it for your brothers. And using it to blow off a bit of steam, really.  I always think that if you don’t go hard out, that’s when you get hurt.

Q: Where are you heading to play?
I’m off to Portugal, to Lisbon, with Thommo Shields, the Excelsior prop. We’re off to a club called Belenenses.  Joe Pickett and Anthony Kent also played there, and they’re coming over to join us at the end of the Heartland season.  It’ll be good to have those guys around. Joe said it’s awesome over there and I’ll love it. Obviously the food might be a bit different. But it’ll be fine. I’ll go with the flow and take it as it comes.

Q: Are you nervous or excited?
It hasn’t really been in my mind until the last week or two. But I’m pretty excited now, and I think I’ll be really pumped by the time I pack the bags.

Q: Have you travelled overseas much before?
I’m originally from Australia. I was born in Western Australia but my old man is from here. We were in a town two and a-half hours east of Perth, and summers were pretty warm. One summer, we hit 50degC three times. It was 2010 when I came over here. I was just about to turn 14.

Q: What’s your ultimate rugby dream?
Just to go as far as I can. I want to come back and try to get a starting spot in the Heartland team.  And I’d like to go all the way with Valley if I can. I’ll come back for a couple of years and finish off my apprenticeship.