Marcus Balchin is flat out building houses and helping raise three pre-school children.
But he still finds time to look back and smile about the Maheno Miracle – and to dream of part two.
Balchin (28), the workaholic openside flanker playing a key role in a fine era of Maheno rugby, was right in the thick of things when the revived country club won the Citizens Shield in 2016.
He said the memory of winger Adam Johnson’s winning try in extra time in the final against Old Boys was seared into his brain.
“It was just awesome. It doesn’t get much better than looking up and seeing AJ streaking down the wing on that last play.”
Balchin said Maheno’s fairytale win that season had transformed a club that had nearly folded a year or two before that.
“There’s a lot more positivity about the club, and numbers are up.
“Just the mindset of the boys is, ‘we can do it now’. Back in 2015, it often felt like we’d lost a game as soon as we kicked off.
“There’s a core of guys who know we can do it.”
Balchin was a Maheno junior before heading off to work in the building trade in Christchurch, Queenstown and Dunedin.
While in Dunedin, he initially linked with the Kaikorai club before deciding to commute to play for his old team.
“I was a building a house after work and couldn’t train for Kaikorai. Maheno was almost looking at folding in 2015, so I thought I’d come back and give them a hand.”
What chance Maheno can stage a repeat of the 2016 miracle?
Balchin is a believer.
“We’re looking pretty good, and we’re building after a bit of a rough patch.
“Old Boys are obviously right up there but there are a few contenders now, I think. Anyone can beat anyone.”
Balchin played a couple of games for North Otago in 2016 but has not given much thought to furthering his representative career.
Life was busy enough with work and children – although wife Jenny was doing a sterling job with the youngsters – and the occasional hunting trip, Balchin said.Running sport mediaFragment x Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG Black/Sport Blue-White