Andy Williams. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Driving from Palmerston North to Whareama up to three times a week has been worth it for Andy Williams. CHRIS COGDALE spoke to the Coasties’ first-five.

The long drive from Palmerston North to Whareama has not deterred Andy Williams from joining a few old mates to play premier club rugby for East Coast.

Williams spent his first four years in Whareama before his parents moved to Dannevirke. He later attended Wairarapa College, where he established many of his friendships, and it was those relationships that attracted the first-five back to East Coast for the club rugby season.

“My parents were Coasties, and a few of my mates are Coasties, so it’s good to get back, and it’s mostly for the social aspect really,” he said.

On leaving Waicol, Williams studied at Canterbury University and earned a degree in geology. Now based in Palmerston North, the 27-year-old works for the Horizons Regional Council in river management “on the civil engineering side, building stopbanks and the like”.

Williams had previously played for the Feilding Yellows, who won the Manawatu championship in the two seasons after he had stopped playing for the club.

Admitting to being “a bit old and broken”, Williams liked the prospect of the shortened nine-week season so returned to his East Coast roots.

“It’s the sense of family out there, getting dinners after training on a Thursday, and the boys are always keen to lend a hand.

“There are always fundraisers going on with most of the team going out there and jumping on a handpiece and helping out.

“It’s just a really cool place to be. Win or lose, everyone’s keen to have a beer afterwards and just talk a bit of code and a bit of s..t, it’s good fun.”

Although Williams has enjoyed the truncated season, he said it made the competition quite volatile.

“Every game becomes a crunch game. I think we were tied for first with three weeks to go and ended up playing in the bottom half semifinals, which isn’t exactly what we wanted.”

As for Friday night’s Hodder-Steffert Cup final, Williams was confident East Coast could reverse the first round 32-29 loss to Carterton.

And for the future at East Coast, Williams said: “There are a lot of young guys who are great footy players and some good leaders out there as well, so it’s a good mix of some old heads and young talent coming through, which should put the boys in a good position for the next few seasons.”