Big time beck­ons for col­lege rugby star

Wairarapa News - - CLASSIFIEDS - STAFF RE­PORTER

A path to the big time is beck­on­ing for one block­bust­ing Wairarapa rugby player.

Wairarapa Col­lege for­ward Sam Smith has been named in the Na­tional Ma¯ori Un­der-18 team, which will play New Zealand Schools Bar­bar­ians and Tonga Un­der-18 later this month.

Smith’s se­lec­tion comes af­ter a strong sea­son for his high school team, cul­mi­nat­ing in him be­ing named Wairarapa Bush col­lege player of the year.

His fa­ther Garry Smith, also Wairarapa Col­lege head coach, said he was proud of his son’s achieve­ment. ‘‘Oh, we’re rapt,’’ he said. ‘‘He set some goals around this time last year, worked re­ally hard in the off-sea­son, and now he’s ticked off pretty much all of them.’’

A ver­sa­tile for­ward. Smith nor­mally plays num­ber eight but there’s a chance he’ll switch to num­ber seven for the Ma¯ori side.

He’s also played for the Hur­ri­canes Un­der-16 team and is hop­ing to make the Hur­ri­canes Un­der-18 side in the not-so-dis­tant fu­ture.

Chair of New Zealand Rugby Ma¯ori Board, Farah Palmer, an­nounced the team , many of whom were part of New Zealand Rugby’s E Tu¯ Toa in 2017.

E Tu¯ Toa is a na­tion­wide pro- gramme which uses rugby as a ve­hi­cle for young Ma¯ori to con­nect with their cul­ture and learn wider life skills.

Palmer said the na­tional side was cre­ated to en­cour­age tal­ented young Ma¯ori to stay in rugby and pro­vide them with de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties both on and off the field.

‘‘The Un­der 18 Ma¯ori Team pro­vides a gen­uine rugby path­way for ran­gatahi (youth) to step up from rep­re­sent­ing their re­gions to higher hon­ours,’’ she said.

‘‘What makes this team dif­fer­ent is the con­nec­tion of all play­ers and coaches to ‘Te Ao Ma¯ori’ the Ma¯ori World.

‘‘It’s the foun­da­tion of all our camps, with play­ers and coaches learn­ing wa­iata, haka and tikanga which en­hance their well­be­ing and achieve­ments in rugby and life.’’

This is the sec­ond year the Un­der 18 Ma¯ori team has been se­lected.

Play­ers from the 2016 side went on to rep­re­sent their re­spec­tive unions at the re­cent Jock Hobbs Na­tional U19 tour­na­ment, as well as achiev­ing se­lec­tion for other na­tional age-grade sides and Su­per Rugby acad­e­mies.

GARRY SMITH

Sam Smith, who is en­joy­ing a break­out sea­son, makes a run up­field.

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