A decade working in scrub cutting and forestry proved just the right training for three Fijians making their NZ Masters Games debut.
Labourers Joe Naimila, Boro Naulu and Volino Rokidi moved to New Zealand for work 10 years ago and this year their boss, and veteran of three games, Patrick Carroll, offered to pay half of their entry fees for any sport.
"When I was on the computer I kept suggesting all these different events and they would all say 'no, no, no!', but we settled on three we could all do," Carroll said.
The men all entered into the indoor rowing, stair racing and the new Gnarly Guy event.
"We had been working in Whangamomona and the farmer had a nice new rowing machine. He asked the guys if they wanted a go and they folded it in half almost immediately. When we got back I bought one and we've all gotten into it since then.
"There's another guy who would've come except he was absolutely convinced it would be rowing on the water, and he was having none of that. 'How can you race on rowing machines, it has to be on the water,' he said, so he ended up staying at home," Carroll said.
The trio did well in the event, Naimila and Rokidi winning gold and silver respectively in the 1000m, and Naulu won silver in the 2000m and bronze in the 500m.
When asked about how they enjoyed the stair racing the three big Fijians grinned and remained silent. They missed out on medals in that event but only by a matter of seconds.
Their final event, the Gnarly Guy organised by Sport Wanganui, was the big one.
"It was like a grudge match, the boys going up against the boss," Carroll said.
"At one point I looked back and Boro was right behind me, and I said to him 'don't let anyone get past you'. They almost had me."
Rokidi, who said the Gnarly Guy was his favourite event, took home the gold with Naulu and Naimila close behind. Carroll won gold too, but in the 40-plus age bracket.
Carroll said they would all be back for the next Wanganui games and possibly next year's Dunedin event.
"We have a couple more guys who could be keen, so who knows what else we'll do.
"At the moment we really want to focus on our work. We will wait until about two months before the next games before we really start practising," Naulu said.