Tyler has one eye on a league career
‘‘I love the physical stuff - running at people is what I do’’
Tyler Smith plays many sports, but his heart belongs to one.
The Tawa College Year 12 student took out the College Sport Wellington rugby league player of the year award on November 6 and said it was humbling to be recognised for a solid winter’s work.
The Randwick and Orcas age grade prop was one of three players from Wellington selected to attend a New Zealand high performance camp, getting priceless advice from Stephen Kearney while there.
He was a standout as his under-17 club side won the Wellington competition this year.
Smith is a latecomer to the code, having only decided to turn his attention to it four years ago, when he was 12.
His reason for not playing the game in his younger days? He didn’t want to hurt people.
‘‘I’m quite big and league is about running hard and straight,’’ he said.
‘‘I was also not that keen to go into tackles - but that’s not the case any more.
‘‘I love the physical stuff now - running at people is what I do.’’
Smith, from Titahi Bay, has spread himself across a number of sports, both as a player and a mentor.
His attention right now is softball, which he plays at premier level as a catcher for Porirua City United, and he also coaches junior grades.
He captains the Island Bay under-17s and under-19 teams.
In rugby union, he has played for his school’s 1st XV since he was 14.
This year, playing at No 8, his team lost the premier 2 final to St Pat’s Silverstream 2nds and the Beard Trophy 21-20 to Bishop Viard - he scored a try at the death but the conversion was unsuccessful.
He is likely to feature in rugby and softball in the future, but his commitment is to rugby league.
His team is Cronulla, this year’s NRL grand final winners, and the man he wants to play like is rugged prop Andrew Fifita.
‘‘I’m up early each day, alternating between the gym and running.
‘‘I’ve got to fit my training around my Level 2 [NCEA] but I’m making it work and I’m passing at school, which is the main thing.’’
Ultimately, he wants to get spotted by NRL scouts and base himself for trials in Australia.
Along with coaching softball, he helps out with Northern United rugby juniors.
‘‘These sports have given me a lot so it’s important to give back.’’