GROWING up together in Nelson on the South Island of New Zealand, Tim Riley and Nathan Tule used to wag school to play golf.
The Southern Beaches players attended Nelson Boys College and have been close mates ever since.
Both 31, they had a season playing in Chile at Concepción in 2008, and when Riley moved to Sydney late last year Tule was quick to persuade him to keep heading up the coast to Newcastle.
‘‘I used to go to school with Tuley and we have always stayed in touch,’’ Riley said.
‘‘We used to play for rival clubs in Nelson but were always mates at school – not that we spent much time there. We were always out playing sport, golf mainly.
‘‘After South America he came to Newcastle with his girl.
‘‘I was living in Christchurch last year and with the earthquake I wanted to leave.
‘‘I moved to Sydney and liked it there, but he rang and told me Newcastle was a nice place. I love it here – it is a great spot.’’
Southern Beaches have been the beneficiary.
Riley has arguably been the find of the season.
He is the leading points scorer in the competition with 162, thanks to 11 tries, 37 conversions and 11 penalties.
He is 36 points clear of Ryan McCormack.
Significantly, Riley has given Beaches a much-needed X-factor, especially since he made the switch from fullback to outside-centre.
His 70-metre solo effort, which included regathering his own chip kick, against Merewether last Tuesday night was brilliant.
‘‘If you want to compete at the top level, the teams are pretty even, you need someone who can break the game open,’’ Beaches coach Tim Chidgey said. ‘‘This year we have Harry [Bledyyn Gant] in the forwards and Tim in the backline.’’
Tule is in his second season at Cahill Oval. The No.8 has been used mainly as an impact player off the bench.
But his worth to Beaches is more than just on the pitch.
‘‘Tuley has played a lot of footy and has some good contacts,’’ Chidgey said. ‘‘We were looking at a few key positions at the end of last season and he said Tim would be a great fit for our club.
‘‘It has turned out that way.’’
Newcastle is the latest stopover on a rugby tour for Riley.
Apart from three years in Chile, he has played in Argentina, Perth, Newcastle in England, Texas and Chicago.
‘‘Rugby has taken me around the world,’’ Riley said.
‘‘I’ve had some great experiences, but I’m 31 now.
‘‘It’s probably time I stayed in one place.’’