Farm boy sets his sights on stardom
Selection for U20s first step on path to Super Rugby
Joseph Gavigan from Pahiatua has been selected for the New Zealand Under-20s rugby team to tour Australia soon. Its come off the back of a good start to the year for Gavigan, who has been training with Manawatu since last year. He played a couple of games for the Hurricanes Hunters B side at the start of the year, then was lucky enough to have a few games with the Hurricanes Under 20s.
From that, he went on to a tournament in Taupo¯ with all of the other Super Rugby Under 20s teams and played three games.
“They selected the New Zealand Under 20s from these games, where we beat the Highlanders but lost to the Blues and Chiefs,” said Gavigan.
“Position-specific selectors . . . would score you with facets of play — ball carrying, tackling at the breakdown, your set piece, scrums and lineouts. They compared everyone.
“The process produced a 30-man team — 23 will play four games, everyone will probably get a run.”
Gavigan started playing rugby aged about 5 or 6 at Bush Park in
There are real good role models in Pahiatua as well when it comes to sport. Three that come to mind for me are Lance Bryant (boxing), Jake Tipene (a sharp rugby player who helped me out a lot) and Yohann Botha from Tararua College who helped me a lot with my scrummaging. Joseph Gavigan
Pahiatua. He played for Bush all the way through, then headed to Tararua College for Year 9, then to Palmerston North to Manukura College for four years.
He has always lived in Pahiatua. “It’s pretty cool to come from a place like this”, he said. His parents own a farm south of Pahiatua at Konini. “It absolutely helps me with my fitness — doing dagging over the summer certainly helps the fitness.
“There are real good role models in Pahiatua as well when it comes to sport. Three that come to mind for me are Lance Bryant (boxing), Jake Tipene (a sharp rugby player who helped me out a lot) and Yohann Botha from Tararua College who helped me a lot with my scrummaging.
“This absolutely contributed to my match fitness at the trials. We went into camp on June 24 in Palmerston North for four days, then down to Wellington to play their Wellington XV team.
“Then we are off to the Gold Coast to play Australia’s Under 20s team in two games. Then we go on to play against the Cook Islands.
“I am looking to make a full-time career out of it. If you give it everything, you never die wondering, which is what I think is important.
“Super Rugby would be the next stepping-stone. I signed up with the Manawatu Turbos, who I have been training with this year. We’ve got the Bunnings Warehouse NPC competition coming up. If you play well in that, you’ll probably be looked at for Super Rugby. That’ll be exciting, to represent your region — if I get to go out on the field.”
At 19 years old, Gavigan is 1.9m and weighs 120kg. He still has plenty of time to keep going at it, with a goal of attaining 128 lean kg. People should be watching out for Gavigan’s name in the future.
“I’ve been pretty lucky with the experiences I’ve had. I shot down to Wellington for a couple of weeks and trained with the Hurricanes side as a replacement player, that was eye-opening. The speed with which they play everything, it’s unbelievable. They’re big players, once you’re in that environment though, they’re really good people, you don’t seem to worry too much.”
Gavigan has to watch his nutrition and get plenty of protein in. “My dad has a body-building background and knows a lot about nutrition. Manawatu Rugby Union helps out as well.
“I would absolutely like to be in the All Blacks one day, that’s my supreme goal. It’s going to take a lot of work to get there, just keep chipping away at it. No two games are the same, so you might find a little trick here and there [to] . . . add it to your arsenal.
“It’s good to be able to give back as well to the game, we [Turbos] were helping out with the Tararua College Under 15 boys recently, which is pretty cool to see.”