Schools clash is Eden Park debut
In rugby, nothing is ever certain, but if Charles Napa’a has his way a long career in the game stretches out in front of him.
The Mount Albert Grammar School First XV captain is preparing his squad for the opening match of the 2015 Unitec 1st XV competition tomorrow at the holy grail of New Zealand rugby, Eden Park.
Stepping on to one of world rugby’s biggest stages is enough to send most to dizzying heights, but the hooker remains grounded about the opportunity.
‘‘I’m excited, the boys are excited.
‘‘Your first ever game at Eden Park, it’s going to be a humbling experience for all of us,’’ Charles says. ‘‘With all eyes on you the pressure is probably going to get to us.’’
Playing as the curtain raiser for the Blues v Western Force Super Rugby clash, Mount Albert Grammar will be up against Sacred Heart College in the limelight for thousands of avid rugby fans.
‘‘It really gives us a chance to show what we have to offer for the season,’’ Charles says.
Coming up against Sacred Heart College, Charles and his team have been working hard to iron out any kinks in their pre-season performances.
‘‘It’s just about sticking to the basics,’’ he says.
‘‘We need to play our game, we’re just going to try beat ourselves instead of trying to be better than another team.’’
Having a successful run in the upcoming season is an important goal for Charles, but he says it’s not all about winning.
‘‘Keeping our culture is one of our main goals.
‘‘Being able to stick as a team throughout the whole season is one of the most important things. ‘‘It’s like a brotherhood.’’ The ominous first steps on to Eden Park will be an important milestone for Charles.
A strong passion for rugby coupled with the right attitude could provide the foundations for many more steps on to the very same pitch.
‘‘I probably just need to be playing the best at my level, just being the best player on the field.
‘‘Improving my skill as well is important.
‘‘I love the sport and it’s pretty cool that you can get paid for doing something that you love.
‘‘Living in New Zealand it’s what all the boys dream about, playing for the All Blacks.
‘‘It’s an awesome sport. just love playing it.’’
In the long term that black jersey is a goal that could be achievable, but right now there are some more urgent matters to attend.
There are a number of strong teams in Auckland First XV competition, but Charles says in their mind Auckland Grammar is the one to beat.
‘‘It’s the battle of the lion,’’ he says.
‘‘We’re the two grammar schools so there’s a massive rivalry between us.’’
Mount Albert Grammar School First VX captain Charles Napa’a is ready to take on the challenge of Eden Park.