War­riors goal in sight for James Te Pou

Auckland City Harbour News - - Sport - By Scott Mor­gan

Block­bust­ing rugby league cen­tre James Te Pou’s dream has come true.

The Blockhouse Bay res­i­dent is train­ing with the New Zealand War­riors un­der-20s squad af­ter sign­ing a con­tract with the club last year.

“I was very sur­prised but have al­ways wanted to be a War­rior and stay home in New Zealand,” Te Pou says.

“I’ve grown up watch­ing the War­riors and go to all their games.”

Te Pou signed a de­vel­op­ment deal with Par­ra­matta, but when that con­tract ex­pired in July, War­riors un­der-20s coach Tony Iro snapped up the tal­ented young­ster.

While they’ve only been train­ing for a cou­ple of months, the 17year-old says it’s tougher than any­thing he’s ever done be­fore.

And a train­ing ses­sion with the club’s first grade side, in­clud­ing Steve Price and Stacey Jones, was an­other eye­opener for Te Pou.

“They told me the peo­ple who work the hard­est off the field will make it fur­ther and last longer.”

The Lyn­field Col­lege stu­dent says he saw the work ethic of 34-yearold Price who stayed on the bike at train­ing af­ter his team­mates had fin­ished.

“He has to do it to stay up with the young boys.”

Iro says once they found out Te Pou’s re­la­tion­ship with Par­ra­matta had ended, the club had no hes­i­ta­tion in mak­ing him an of­fer.

“James is ev­ery­thing you want in a cen­tre. He’s big, mo­bile, very strong and quick to boot.

“He stands out in most games he plays.

“That’s usu­ally a sign of a pretty good tal­ent.”

Iro hopes Te Pou will de­but at some point for the un­der-20s side in the Toy­ota Cup com­pe­ti­tion this year.

But he is wary of rush­ing the younger play­ers that are still grow­ing into the side too soon.

“It’s a re­ally tough com­pe­ti­tion be­cause you’re trav­el­ling ev­ery sec­ond week.

“The stan­dard’s a lot tougher here than the kids are used to.

“Men­tally, they’ve got to be pre­par­ing the best they can.”

How­ever he ad­mits there are al­ways ex­cep­tions to the rule.

“Gen­er­ally they don’t play that young, but if they’re tal­ented enough they can play that grade.”

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