INSTONIANS captain Nikolai Smith has hailed the instant impression made by his namesake Nathan ahead of tomorrow’s AJG Challenge Cup first round clash at Muckamore.

Smith was the match-winner in Instonians’ first cup match of the season against Leinster league and cup double winners Clontarf last weekend, the Australian holding his nerve to hit last the ball for four to send his new club into the second round of the Irish Cup.

“Nathan has kept everything simple, just doing the basics well and has been rewarded. We’re very glad to have signed him," said Nikolai.

“We’d seen him bowl in the nets when he was over visiting his cousin, Matthew Lightbody, a club member, so we didn’t sign him blind But he’s even better than we expected, so a very good acquisition for the side and he has fitted in well.”

As an Irish passport holder, Nathan can play alongside Instonians professional Rusty Theron, the former South Africa Test player and it is a double act which should ensure the Shaw’s Bridge will be a major force in every competition.

“Rusty bowls brilliantly, bats well, is good in the field and excellent in passing on his knowledge to the other guys and that’s more than we can ask for,” added Nikolai.

Two years ago, in a Premier League game, Instonians bowled out Muckamore for 34 but while captain Smith is not expecting the Moylena side to fold over so easily this time, last year’s beaten finalists should still have enough big guns to ease through.

Holders CIYMS should also get their defence off to a comfortable start at Woodvale but North Down will have to improve on their opening displays if they are not to avoid a cup upset at Downpatrick.