Rugby: Sweet has it all sorted

By Shane Hurndell


Taradale loosie Kaleb Sweet was quick to reply when asked who his rugby hero was.

"All Black No 8 Kieran Reid. He is not just a good player ... he is all sorted off the field as well."

It wasn't a surprise as Sweet prefers the No 8 role rather than the blindside flanker role which he can also play. Sweet, who wants to follow a similar path to Reid and become a professional player, has also got his life sorted off the field in case it doesn't happen.

Sweet, 21, is in his first year as a labourer with Higgins. While the physical aspect of the job helps with his rugby fitness he is also hoping the role will lead to him securing his heavy traffic driving licence in future.

"I haven't had any contact with the Magpies coaches yet but the aim is to make the team within the next couple of years. I'll just keep playing and see if any offers pop up," Sweet said.

Should Sweet, a former Hurricanes Schools, Hawke's Bay 20s, 18s and 16s representative who spent three years in the Napier Boys' High School 1st XV, continue to play like he has in recent weeks he is likely to attract the interest of Magpies head coach Craig Philpott.

Sweet produced his second consecutive player-of-the-match performance as Carters Frame and Truss Taradale upset previously unbeaten MAC 20-17 in a sixth round Maddison Trophy clash at Flaxmere's Ron Giorgi Park on Saturday.

This saw the Taihape-raised Sweet become the 15th winner in the Tui-Hawke's Bay Today Club Player of the Year award. He agreed the Mighty Maroons were peaking at the right time.

"We're pretty comfortable ... we've found our feet. I'm confident we can make the Maddison Trophy final because the boys are hungry to do it ... we just have to keep to our structures."

He is confident Taradale will cope well in the absence of its four Magpies pre-season squad members, prop Jody Allen, lock Johan Schoonbee, halfback Chris Eaton and first five-eighth John Semple, during the coming weeks.


Sweet agreed Saturday's seventh round home clash with Napier Old Boys Marist will provide a test of that confidence. Like his cousins Elijah and Nick Martin, who also play for the Taradale premiers and Izy Martin who plays for the Tech premiers, Sweet got an early introduction to rugby, playing with and alongside relations in "barefoot battles" on the grounds of Moawhango's Whitikaupeka Marae near Taihape.


These battles and his passion for pig hunting meant he arrived as a boarder at Napier Boys' High School in ideal condition to make an impact in the code.

Sweet pointed out he was fortunate to play when former New Zealand Maori and Magpies No 8 Mutu Ngarimu was coaching the NBHS 1st XV with Des Allen.

"Mutu taught me a lot about my loose forward roles."

Ngarimu, who is now Gisborne-based, is a former Taradale player and will be a happy man if Sweet and his teammates experience glory on August 10.

Best & fairest


Taradale v MAC:

3, Kaleb Sweet (Taradale); 2, Andrew Gardner (Taradale); 1, Willy Schuster (MAC).

NOBM v Clive:

3, Sam Giddens (NOBM); 2, Matt Thompson (NOBM); 1, Spencer Isopo (NOBM).

Tech v Pirate:

3, Josh Te Whata-Colley (Tech); 2, Tane McGuire (Tech); 1, Marcus Donovan (Pirate).

Hastings Rugby and Sports v Central:

3, Peniasi Tokakece (Hastings); 2, Luke Makris (Hastings); 1, Tom Beachen (Central).

Havelock North v Tamatea:

3, Adam Jowsey (Havelock); 2, Johnny Robin (Havelock); 1, Zane Rangi (Havelock).

Leaderboard

16 points: Hugh Reed (Tech).

11 points: Mark Atkins (Clive).

10 points: Mark Braidwood (Tech).

9 points: Josh Te Whata-Colley (Tech), Brendon Edmonds (Havelock), Kaleb Sweet (Taradale).

- Hawkes Bay Today

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