SBW sur­prises for­mer high school team

Central Leader - - SITUATIONS VACANT - SAMHEWAT

Mount Al­bert Gram­mar School (MAGS) old boy Sonny Bill Wil­liams sur­prised his for­mer high school rugby team on Satur­day af­ter a big win in Al­bany.

Wil­liams was on hand to con­grat­u­late the MAGS first XV boys af­ter they won their third con­sec­u­tive an­nual Blues 10s Tour­na­ment at QBE Sta­dium. The com­pe­ti­tion was set up by the Blues in 2015 and at­tracts a num­ber of Auck­land’s top high school sides.

MAGS first XV coach Ge­off Moon said the school pro­duced a num­ber of pro­lific rugby stars who al­ways pay homage to the school.

‘‘We have our pre­vi­ous play­ers come back a lot here at MAGS,’’ Moon said.

‘‘We see Steven Lu­atua a lot as well. It’s just a big part of the cul­ture we’ve cre­ated here.’’

De­spite the reg­u­lar­ity of old boy vis­its, Wil­liams’ at­ten­dance was spe­cial and Moon said it was a tes­ta­ment to the All Blacks star’s char­ac­ter.

‘‘SBW is just awe­some,’’ he said.

‘‘It just shows the hu­mil­ity of the man and how grounded he is. Noth­ing has af­fected him, and it’s sort of what we try and grow at this place.’’

For cap­tain Jack CaseyPick­er­ing, see­ing a sport­ing le­gend was some­thing that pro­vided real in­spi­ra­tion for his team­mates.

‘‘Yeah it was quite ran­dom how he just popped up,’’ CaseyPick­er­ing said.

‘‘But it was cool, a lot of the boys ad­mire him quite a lot. If we get to his stan­dard that would be pretty cool.’’

MAGS went un­de­feated at the pre-sea­son tour­na­ment, with big wins over Whangarei Boys High (54-0), Ran­gi­toto Col­lege (70-0), West­lake Boys High (15-7) in the semis, and De La Salle Col­lege (13-5) in the fi­nal.

While it was nice to lift the tro­phy, Moon said it wasn’t just about win­ning.

‘‘For us, it’s a pre­sea­son tour­na­ment where the boys get to play and ex­press them­selves and en­joy it and get their skills go­ing.

‘‘It’s a re­ally pos­i­tive start for us. We are fo­cus­ing on our team en­vi­ron­ment and cul­ture so that we’re strong for when we tour.’’

MAGS won both the 1A Auck­land com­pe­ti­tion and the Na­tional First XV Cham­pi­onship last year. As a re­sult of their suc­cess, they head to Ja­pan in three weeks time to take part in the Sanix World Sec­ondary Schools Rugby Cham­pi­onship.

SUP­PLIED

The Mount Al­bert Gram­mar School first XV rugby team pose with All Blacks star Sonny Bill Wil­liams af­ter win­ning the Blues 10s tour­na­ment at QBE Sta­dium.

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