Stu­dent gets crack at Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions

Auckland City Harbour News - - WHAT’S ON - SAMHEWAT

On June 2, Mar­cel Re­nata will have his head buried in univer­sity books. The next day, it’ll be in a rugby scrum against the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions.

The 23-year-old AUT busi­ness stu­dent and Auck­land Rugby player was handed the op­por­tu­nity of a life­time when he was se­lected for the New Zealand Pro­vin­cial Bar­bar­ians team to play the Lions on their first game of the 2017 tour.

It will be a sur­real ex­pe­ri­ence for a young prop who only de­cided to fo­cus on rugby three years ago.

‘‘It’s a once in a life­time op­por­tu­nity,’’ Re­nata said.

‘‘Some of the best play­ers in the world don’t even get the chance to play them so I’m very lucky to get a shot.’’

Re­nata plays his club rugby for Univer­sity, and is just a hand­ful of pa­pers away from fin­ish­ing his bach­e­lor of busi­ness. He said play­ing against the Lions wasn’t even on his radar, and it took a while for the news to sink in.

‘‘I got a text and I just thought, ‘that’s pretty cool’,’’ he said.

‘‘My old man goes, ’ what do you mean pretty cool? It’s the Lions’.

‘‘I didn’t re­ally re­alise un­til I thought about it. I mean, the whole world is go­ing to be watch­ing, we’re play­ing against a su­per team from the northern hemi­sphere with some of the best play­ers in the world.’’

How­ever, this isn’t the first time Re­nata has been sur­prised with rep­re­sen­ta­tive se­lec­tion. After grad­u­at­ing from Kings Col­lege in 2011, he picked up a con­tract with the Auck­land Rugby Academy which shed light on a dif­fer­ent pathway.

‘‘At the time I was just play­ing rugby be­cause my mates played and I just en­joyed the whole ca­ma­raderie around it,’’ he said. ‘‘When I slipped into the academy, that’s when I started think­ing I could make some­thing out of it.’’

In 2015, he made Auck­land’s Mitre 10 Cup side and last year made six starts in the num­ber three jer­sey. When news came out last year that a prop from the Maori All Blacks went down with in­jury, some­one alerted Re­nata that he could be on the se­lec­tors radar.

‘‘We played Waitem­ata that week, and the next week I was kit­ting up for the Maori All Blacks against the Bar­bar­ians at Eden Park.’’

That se­lec­tion got Re­nata a spot with the Maori All Blacks in Novem­ber.

PHOTOTEK

Mar­cel Re­nata, 23, will play against the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions in June with the NZ Pro­vin­cial Bar­bar­ians.

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