Dif­fer­ent codes, same de­ter­mi­na­tion

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - SAMHEWAT

Two broth­ers, play­ing dif­fer­ent codes at dif­fer­ent schools, are both head­ing down the same promis­ing path.

Star Toa, 16, and Lepa Toa, 18, play rugby league and rugby union re­spec­tively and are both mak­ing waves in their cho­sen sports.

Star, a stu­dent at St Paul’s Col­lege in Pon­sonby, is a ris­ing league prodigy, hav­ing signed with the NRL’s New­cas­tle Knights.

Last year, he was named Auck­land Rugby League’s first 13 full­back of the year and made the New Zealand un­der-16 side.

Lepa, cur­rently at Ta­maki Col­lege in Glen Innes, plays rugby union and has helped steer the school’s first 15 back into Auck­land’s pre­mier 1A com­pe­ti­tion.

Ta­maki hasn’t played in 1A since 2013 - their glory year be­ing 2007 when cur­rent All Black Ge­orge Moala led them to the semi­fi­nals.

Lepa made the NZ Schools rugby league team last year but when his rugby sev­ens coach saw him play, he was quickly snapped up by Ta­maki’s first 15.

‘‘I don’t mind play­ing both,’’ Lepa said.

‘‘I feel com­fort­able play­ing both and I’d love to try and make a ca­reer out of it.’’

But the tran­si­tion hasn’t been easy for the 18-year-old, de­spite some peo­ple think­ing league and union are the same.

‘‘The big­gest dif­fer­ence de­fence,’’ Lepa said.

‘‘Tack­ling low is a bit an­noy­ing be­cause we are used to wrestling them up high and tack­ling them down. I still do it now, tackle is re­ally high.

‘‘The rules too. It’s com­pli­cated, es­pe­cially in the ruck.’’

St Paul’s di­rec­tor of sport Dave McDer­mott said both boys had the abil­ity to go far. Their league skills would make them a deadly threat on the rugby sev­ens scene, of which both of them were in­ter­ested in, he said.

‘‘Be­ing skil­ful out­side backs, both Lepa and Star are well suited to sev­ens,’’ McDer­mott said

‘‘As their un­der­stand­ing of rugby in­creases, so too will their path­ways into pro­fes­sional sport for ei­ther code.’’

As for Star, he seemed to be in­spired by his older broth­ers switch and an­tic­i­pated an ap­pear­ance in the 15-man game for St Paul’s Col­lege this year.

‘‘I’m just try­ing to keep my op­tions open,’’ he said.

‘‘If league doesn’t come my way, I’ll try and make my way in rugby.’’

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