Rugby: Trainor fortunate to be in NZ U20s

By Campbell Burnes

Jordan Trainor. Photo / Getty Images
Jordan Trainor. Photo / Getty Images

Jordan Trainor knows he is lucky to be with the New Zealand Under 20s in England preparing to defend their world title.

Not due to any question marks about his ability - that is unquestioned - but his fortune comes from the fact he lacerated his liver in what was a potentially horrific injury playing club rugby for Ponsonby in April.

"The doctors weren't sure how I was going to heal. They said it could be the whole year or 5-6 weeks, so I had to take it as the weeks went by," says the 20-year-old fullback/wing from the Blues and Waikato.

Lucky indeed that the latter prognosis came good, though he only just started taking contact again this week once the side arrived in England. He was in cotton wool for the Under 20s' final hitout against the Chiefs Development XV on Monday (a 35-24 victory) and will likely only be considered for New Zealand's second game against Ireland next Saturday.

Trainor knows the selectors have taken a leap of faith after he was forced to miss the Oceania series in Australia last month.

"I'm very grateful. They've shown a bit of faith in me, so hopefully I can repay that when I get out on the field," he says. He was brought into camp early last month even when he was rehabbing, just to stay in touch with the systems.

The selectors have shown faith in Trainor because he has already shown bottle and talent on the big stage.

How many teenage wings make their provincial debut in a Ranfurly Shield challenge and look the part from the outset?

Trainor did just that on the wing when Waikato pinched the Shield from Hawke's Bay last October.

That followed some compelling form for the Waikato Juniors in the Jock Hobbs Memorial national Under 19 tournament in Taupo, where his speed and skill helped them to the final.

Close observers of the Auckland 1A competition will recall a classy fullback for St Peter's College who was the best goalkicker in the grade in 2014, winning him an NZ Schools berth.

New Zealand Under 20s assistant coach Craig Philpott refers to Trainor as "a special player," but jokingly quips he has completely forgotten about Trainor's Waikato debut on the night his Hawke's Bay side were divested of the Shield.

Trainor is one of 10 goalkickers, no less, among the backs, but he is potentially the best of the lot off the tee. In general, the squad is riddled with talent.

"We always back ourselves just to play. New Zealand sides are always expected to do well. The boys are in a good space at the moment," Trainor says.

Philpott knows some of his charges will make a name for themselves in this tournament. Some already have, with a clutch of Super Rugby players in the mix.

"There'll be some guys who aren't too well known, but I'm picking by the end of this, people in New Zealand will know who they are."

*New Zealand open their campaign on Wednesday morning (6.45am NZT) against Georgia.

- NZ Herald

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