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Treeby benefits from bulking up

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Friday, August 13, 2010    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

The 21-year-old, by his own admission, is not a big man and knew if he wanted to fulfil his ambitions of playing Super rugby he needed to beef up his frame.

So he hit the gym, tucked into the steak and pasta and has added five kilos to weigh in at 92kg.

It seems to have worked as the second five-eighths has been able to bust tackles and break the advantage line more easily in Wellington's opening two matches of the ITM Cup and is stronger on defence as well.

He was one of the Lions' better players in the disappointing loss to Counties Manukau and scored a deserved try in a losing cause.

"It always helps with your strength putting on a bit of muscle. Hopefully in a one-on-one I can beat a few more players and take it into contact a little bit more and a little bit stronger," the former New Zealand Under-20s World Cup winner said.

"I'm looking to get a spot in the Super 15 and I need to bulk up to do that really as I'm only 5ft 9' which is not huge.

"I need to beef up so I can get used to the physical nature of the step up."

Jamie Joseph has no doubt Treeby can make the transition.

"He's got ambitions to play at the next level in Super rugby and to do that he's probably got to be the size he is minimum. He'll develop with training week in week out, day in day out and through games. He's maturing and the signs he is showing as a professional are pretty positive," the soon-to-be Highlanders coach said.

"He is certainly one player who has shown by the way he trains and his attitude off the field that he really wants to be a Super rugby player. He's a good player. He's made a few line breaks and that's the sort of game he'll have to play if he's going to get picked up."

A big season with Wellington will ensure he is on the Super 15 coaches' radars and with All Blacks Conrad Smith and Ma'a Nonu blocking his path at the Hurricanes Treeby makes no secret of the fact he will go where the playing opportunities are.

"I'm just looking for game time … and I don't mind where. Hopefully I'll get a few good performances [for Wellington] under my belt. You just do your best and hope for the best really."

That will start on Saturday against Otago, who will be smarting from yet more Ranfurly Shield heartbreak after losing to Southland last weekend.

It will be Joseph's last game in charge of the Lions before heading south to start his Super 15 role and the players are determined to give him the perfect send-off.

"We will dig deep this week and give him a good one," stand-in skipper Neemia Tialata promised.

The irony of playing Otago in his final game has not been lost on Joseph either.

"It's clearly a game I want to win," said the former loose forward who played 68 games for the province.

"It's the Mike Gibson Memorial Trophy which is a trophy as a player for Otago that was always held dear to our hearts in the deep south.

"I'm sure it will be a motivating factor for their team, especially with Dave Latta being one of the coaches."

Last weekend's lacklustre display against Counties has resulted in several changes to this weekend's starting line-up.

In the pack John Schwalger [knee] and Mark Reddish [ankle] return from injury and replace Reg Goodes and Api Naikatini in the front row and loose forwards, respectively.

Alapati Leiua has paid the price for a below par effort in the midfield and swaps places with Charlie Ngatai who impressed off the bench.

Naikatini and Leiua are joined by prop Jacob Ellison, on the comeback from a back injury, as the newcomers in the reserves.

"Alapati didn't play to his normal standards and that's just the brunt of selection when you've got three quality players in Treeby, Alapati and Charlie," said Joseph.

"We're going to play the best two every week. There is competition like that now that the forwards are coming back [from injury] in the prop position, the lock position and the loose forward position."

Alby Mathewson has also got the green light for the trip to Dunedin with Jimmy Cowan passing a fitness test on his injured ribs to take his place in the All Blacks squad for South Africa.