PHILLIP ROLLO/FAIRFAX NZ
Tasman's Andrew Knewstubb, seen here in action for Kahurangi, was named men's player of the national sevens tournament.
Andrew Knewstubb barely got a wink of sleep on Sunday night.
Not surprisingly, the 21-year-old Tasman sevens player's head was still spinning after being named men's player of the national sevens tournament in Rotorua.
And the drama didn't end there after Knewstubb and fellow Tasman team-mates Trael Joass and Tone Ng Shiu were also selected in a national training squad to prepare for the next leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Wellington on January 28-29.
While it appeared just reward for a Tasman team that performed impressively to finish sixth overall after a 26-21 overtime loss to Auckland in the plate final, Knewstubb was still pinching himself after two action-packed days at the Rotorua International Stadium.
Tasman women's team manager Andrew Goodman informed him of his award.
"I didn't know what to think, I was just blank, my whole body went numb and I couldn't believe it eh? I thought they were taking the mickey out of me," said a stunned Knewstubb.
And his own self-assessment of his weekend's form?
"I definitely didn't think it was player of the tournament material, there were definitely a lot of mistakes I could have fixed, but yeah, I was just so surprised,"
Making the national training squad, from which the final team for the Wellington Sevens will be selected, was the icing on the cake for a gob-smacked Knewstubb. And while Gordon Tietjens has now handed over the national coaching reins to Scotsman Clark Laidlaw, Knewstubb expected little respite in terms of what he anticipates will be a physically demanding four-day camp this week in Rotorua.
Scott Waldrom and Tomasi Cama are acting as interim coaches while Laidlaw completes his coaching commitments with London Irish.
"I never thought I'd be in this position, that's for sure, so it's awesome.
"I can imagine it's still going to be fairly hard...and I think the nerves will start building once we get there. It's going to be good to have [Joass and Ng Shiu] there."
Knewstubb was delighted with Tasman's efforts at the nationals after they finished top of their pool to qualify for the main Cup event. However, an unwitting Knewstubb would become involved in a controversial incident in their 14-10 Cup quarterfinal loss to Wellington.
With time almost up and Tasman attacking Wellington's line, Knewstubb was ruled to have knocked-on at a ruck which effectively ended the contest. Knewstubb said that he "got a little bit wrong-footed" in a tackle.
"I just dropped like a sack of spuds and I tried to place the ball back and, I don't know, the ball just started rolling in the ruck and I think the touchie just saw that it was rolling and called the knock-on."
He was adamant that he hadn't infringed and was "bloody upset" with the ruling. Still, it was a memorable campaign by a well-coached and talented Tasman outfit.
"It was awesome, especially the feeling around the whole team, everyone's just buzzing with each other, particularly when you can bring guys off the bench and you don't lose anything from the starting team. All 12 could have started each game."
A Paraparaumu College First XV product, Knewstubb headed south to the Kahurangi club in 2014 and has represented Nelson Bays in 15-a-side at both fullback and No 10.
"I've played probably most of my rugby at fullback, but they're trying to push me through to 10 now so I'm trying to learn that position. I like them both, but I think I'll probably move into 10 now."
The next few days will determine what course his career takes over the coming months.