Marty Banks has taken the
long road to make something out of rugby.
Marty Banks. Photo
The Tasman utility has had club stints in Christchurch,
Auckland and Nelson, plus a five-month interlude with Russian
side Krasny Yar in 2011. He's played for Canterbury age-group
sides, the Crusaders development XV and even enjoyed a season
with Buller in the Heartland Championship last year.
By his own admission, the 24-year-old has never taken the
game that seriously but he's just landed a Super Rugby deal
with the Hurricanes and will play in the capital next year,
so that may shake things up.
"I probably would change a little bit," he said of his career
path. "I probably would have put a bit more hard work in back
in the early days but that's all going to have to start now.
That's just the way it goes."
Banks was playing for Takapuna in Auckland when the
opportunity came via the Canterbury Rugby Union to head to
Russia where he linked with Krasny Yar.
The Russian league is played during their summer and the
hottest weather Banks played in was 45 degrees. Aside from
enjoying the occasional vodka, he said it was more of an
opportunity to see a different part of the world and
estimated the top three sides in Russia would be on par with
a strong club team in New Zealand.
"The footy was alright when you played the top teams but
those games didn't come around that often," he said. "You'd
play one strong team then you've got to wait around for
another month or so to get another decent one."
The offer of a two-year contract with Krasny Yar was on the
table but Banks left the country before their bitterly cold
winter kicked in and came back to New Zealand, which began
his path to provincial honours with Buller and now Tasman.
Curiously, for a bloke who has a diploma in sport and
fitness, he barely lifted a weight until last year and he
cops a bit of stick from his Tasman teammates about his thin
"There's a lot of nicknames that are going round and I'm a
pretty easy target," he laughed. "I've never really got
anything to say back to them because it always just comes
back to my lack of size. It's not easy being a little white
guy in a big man's sport."
He's listed at 1.91m and 91kgs and despite looking like a
decent gust of wind might blow him over, you can't argue with
In the past two games, Marty has banked 52 points, including
a Tasman record 28 in the Makos' 28-13 win over Northland
last week, while he booted another 24 in the 64-28 rout over
Waikato on Wednesday.
He's made 18 of his last 21 attempts at the posts, which he
can't put a finger on as he hardly struck the ball with such
consistency when he played for Nelson club side Waimea Old
Boys this season as he helped them towards their first title
"It must just be the little bit of extra pressure that makes
me wake up a little bit and put a bit more extra focus in to
it. I think I'm normally about a 70 per cent kicker so to be
kicking at 80 per cent or whatever it is ... it's a surprise
A fullback first and foremost, Banks has been employed at
first-five in the past two weeks, with sparkling results, and
considering he didn't even make Tasman's original ITM Cup
squad, things have gone along quite nicely.
Banks, who is from the small West Coast town of Reefton, made
his debut for the Makos in their upset 40-20 win over
Counties Manukau in week three and it's been smooth sailing
His kicking off the tee and in general play is the main
feature of his game but his distribution skills are top notch
and he has no fear taking the ball to the line in attack.
He's now scored 103 points this year, which follows on from
the record-setting 131 he racked up in 10 appearances for
Buller last season as he led them to Lochore Cup glory.
Tasman are the runaway leaders in this year's Championship
division and look odds on to be fighting for promotion later
They will continue their push for the playoffs when they head
to New Plymouth to meet Taranaki on Sunday.