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.

South Waikato News - - NEWS / HE PU¯ RONGORONGO -

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.

‘‘privi-

‘‘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.’’

Au-Ye­ung / photosport.co.nz Photo: AN­THONY

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.

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