Josiah Metcalfe-Tavita did his best to try and sidestep his media obligations in the countdown to his Hastings Boys' High School 1st XV rugby team's Hurricanes final against St Pats Silverstream in Palmerston North today.
"I don't know what to say," Metcalfe-Tavita said when HBHS manager Jason Bird reminded him it was his turn.
One would have understood if he wanted to be an Olo Brown-type of prop. Brown, who played 69 matches for the All Blacks in the 1990s, preferred to do his talking on the field and seldom gave media interviews.
But Metcalfe-Tavita, 18, relished his stint as the interviewee and ticked it off in style just as he has each of his matches in the HBHS colours during the past two seasons. He scored a two-year scholarship at the school which he started last year.
"Basically I wanted to get into a Super 8 school where the standard of rugby you play is a lot higher than I would have got with Waiopehu College back home in Levin," Metcalfe-Tavita explained.
"I've loved my time here because there is such a strong brotherhood within the team. I've been billeted by an awesome family too," he said referring to the family of teammate and fellow frontrower Damarus Hokianga.
The former Horowhenua under-16 rep, who started rugby as a 5-year-old, made the Hurricanes under-18s team which beat their Crusaders counterparts in Wellington in July. He knows another powerful display in today's televised final will enhance his chances of rugby and job offers in the future.
"This is my last year at school and where I go next year is dependent on those opportunities. We win this week and we make the national top four competition which means more televised games. Playing in the top four last year was the highlight of my career to date," Metcalfe-Tavita said.
A former Levin Wolves under-17 and under-15 rugby league player, Metcalfe-Tavita, missed last weekend's Hurricanes semifinal which saw HBHS wallop Wellington College 78-0. While HBHS had the advantage of having played Wellington College earlier in the season, they have not played St Pats Silverstream this season.
"I've seen a little bit of footage from St Pats Silverstream's games. We just have to keep doing what we've been doing all season ... keep working hard and never give up."
Tighthead prop Metcalfe-Tavita returns to the HBHS team today after having a spell last weekend to catch up with family in Levin. In the wake of his return captain Kianu Kereru-Symes will start in his regular role of loosehead prop after having the No 3 jersey in last weekend's match and Zac Southwick returns to the subs bench.
The only other changes to the starting XV see the Hurricanes under-18 halfback-first five-eighth combination of Folau Fakatava and Lincoln McClutchie replace their respective deputies Shamara Brooks and Jordan Thompson-Dunn.
The HBHS team for the 2.35pm match at Central Energy Trust Arena:
Gideon Kautai, Trent Hape, Dennon Robinson, Danny Toala, Kini Naholo, Lincoln McClutchie, Folau Fakatava, Devan Flanders, Jeriah Mua, Liam Udy-Johns, Donovan Mataira, Tane Hohipa, Josiah Tavita-Metcalfe, Miracle Lolofie, Kianu Kereru-Symes (captain). Substitutes, forwards: Damarus Hokianga, Corban Kireka, Zac Southwick, Emil Crichton, Jacob Stephenson. Backs: Shamara Brooks, Jordan Thompson-Dunn.