Single-minded in NRL quest
Making the New Zealand Rugby League Under-16 side is a stepping stone toward an NRL career for Dylan Clark, writes Petrice Tarrant.
From the moment he watched rugby league on television as an 11- year- old, Dylan Clark has wanted a career in the NRL.
And the determined 16-yearold is one team closer to that goal.
South Waikato’s newly appointed Junior Sportsman of the Year has just completed his season with the New Zealand Rugby League Resident Under16 side after being selected earlier in the year.
Coach Jeff Whittaker said the Tokoroa second rower has a promising future.
‘‘ He is what New Zealand Rugby League wants in their game.’’
He said Clark was a lege’’ to coach.
‘‘He was outstanding for me . . . I think his community would be proud of how he represented them.’’
Whittaker, who coached his first 16s side in 1996, said about 90 per cent of young men who make the 16s squad are picked up by NRL clubs.
‘‘16s is basically your first step into it. A lot of NRL clubs are looking at that age.’’
That is promising news for Clark who has had his eye on the prize for the past five years.
‘‘I knew that if I wanted to make it I’d have to get serious.’’
Clark has made sacrifices that most other teenage boys wouldn’t consider, including steering clear of alcohol.
And that attitude will serve him well, according to Whittaker.
‘‘The morals that he shows align with those of New Zealand Rugby League.’’
Clark said during league season a typical day would see him up at the crack of dawn for training after which he would march off to school before finishing his day with another training and possibly a gym session.
And he takes that work rate with him onto the field, Whittaker said.
‘‘He’s willing to put his hand up when you’re needing someone to make an extra tackle or run those extra yards . . . he’s quite happy to roll his sleeves up and do the hard yards.’’
Clark said it will be a few years yet before he peaks in his game, but some things are worth waiting for.
‘‘ Anybody can love it, but you’ve got to want it to get it.’’
Strong defender: Dylan Clark defends against Junior Malau of Samoa at Toll Stadium, Whangarei.
Budding star: Dylan Clark receives his New Zealand Under-16s jersey from Kiwis counterpart Simon Mannering.