Joyner Key celebrated his 100th game for the Upper Hutt Rams on Saturday and has become one of the most prolific points scorers in Wellington club rugby amassing over 700 points.
"I was a goal kicker in the Islands, but when I came here no one knew that. We had good kickers like Jason Woodward, Jordon Simpson-Heft and Ben Aiona so there was no need for me to take the kicks," Joyner Key reflects on his early days at Upper Hutt.
"It's a big honour to play 100 games for Upper Hutt. Guys like Jason Woodward, the Schrijvers brothers, Apa Heemi and Mathew Luamanu have become close mates. I love the club." Key acclaims.
Key migrated from Samoa in 2008. Back home his family work in the construction and welding business. In New Zealand Key is employed by an asbestos removal firm, but once upon a time had his sights set on professional rugby.
"I played for Samoa sevens and went to Dubai alongside the likes of Uale Mai and Mikaele Pesamino. I moved to New Zealand to help my family." Key recalls.
Key made his Premier debut for Avalon in 2008 and bagged 17 points against the Wests Roosters. He spent three years at the Wolves before switching to Upper Hutt whom he debuted for against Hutt Old Boys Marist in 2012.
Key has produced many fine displays for Upper Hutt. His largest haul for points in a single game is 23 achieved twice against Wellington in 2017 and Paremata-Plimmerton in 2016.
In 2015, Key scored 21 points, including the last minute try and conversion to beat Norths 31-30 at Jerry Collins Stadium, the team he played his 100th match in Upper Hutt Rams colours for on Saturday.
"I think the toughest opponent is Fa'atonu Fili and MSP. You never know what Fa'atonu is going to do. He kicks the ball in all directions and has lots of experience." Key says.
"Every game is important. I can't really point out my favourite," he continues.
Upper Hutt Rams manager Dustin Brattle speaks highly of Key.
"Joyner had already obtained his blazer (30 starts) and his 50 starts pin and now he has a 100. Joyner is a hugely valuable member of our side. He is one of our quiet achievers who always gives it 100 percent in every game and has in the last couple of seasons become a deadly accurate kicker. His boot is so good that when he played for the Wellington Samoans last season Fa'atonu Fili gave up his kicking role for Joyner to take over."
"He is a favourite among Rams fans." Brattle enthused.
Key has started every match this season so far on the right wing, having played every game at second five-eighth last season.
The durable utility back hasn’t missed a match for the Rams since the start of 2013 Swindale Shield – playing the last 86 consecutive matches.
Top of the table after Round two, the Rams have tumbled to ninth in the Swindale Shield standings and face a tricky run home with fixtures against Old Boys University, Tawa and Petone remaining.
"I really believe when we play our A game we can beat anyone. We have been playing our B game too much lately, but I have confidence that we can arrest the slide." Key warns.
It needs to start this weekend against OBU at home at Maidstone Park, in a possible season defining clash for the Rams.