Rugby: NZ Schools squad named

By Campbell Burnes

Quinn Tupaea of Hamilton Boys High School makes a break during the Super Eight 1st XV Final match between Hastings Boys High and Hamilton Boys High. Photo / Getty Images
Quinn Tupaea of Hamilton Boys High School makes a break during the Super Eight 1st XV Final match between Hastings Boys High and Hamilton Boys High. Photo / Getty Images

There are several chips off the old block in the 53-man extended NZ Schools squad named after the weekend's national Top 4 tournament.

Among the list, from which the NZ Schools and NZ Barbarians Schools will be selected following a camp in Auckland at the end of the month, are MAGS wing Caleb Clarke, son of Eroni Clarke, Gisborne BHS flanker Naera Tipoki, son of Rua Tipoki, Sacred Heart loose forward Hoskins Sotutu, son of Waisake Sotutu, St Peter's No 10 Harry Plummer, son of Blues and former Black Caps' physio Mark Plummer, Scots wing Connor Garden-Bachop, son of Stephen Bachop, and Wellington fullback Reece Plumtree, son of Hurricanes assistant coach John Plumtree.

There are also names with siblings who are representatives: St Kentigern prop Tevita Mafileo is the younger brother of Blues and North Harbour bookend Sione Mafileo, while St Pat's Town centre Billy Proctor is the younger brother of Hurricanes and Wellington No 13 Matt Proctor.

For those who feel the Auckland 1A competition is over-rated, there are 17 players in the mix, including six from the national champions MAGS. Just eight hail from the South Island, where there is just one strong First XV competition (the UC Championship), though some 25 schools in all are represented.

The selectors have chosen nine props and just two centres, but the squad looks powerful and both teams will be stern tests for Australian and Fijian Schools in the quadrangular series.

Missing are the injured duo of prop Sione Asi (Otago BHS) and centre Bailyn Sullivan (King's), while missing are Top 4 player of the year finalist, No 8 Patrick McCurran (Hamilton BHS) and brilliant St Kentigern fullback Etene Nanai. The outstanding MAGS No 7 Isaiah Papali'i was ineligible as he is destined for rugby league.

New Zealand Rugby's high performance talent identification manager Matt Sexton knows there is depth in this group.

"We're really pleased with the calibre of talent to choose from this year, which provided us with some tough choices. This is exactly what you want when selecting a squad," he said.

"We've got a really well-balanced squad with good depth across all positions so we're confident we'll be able to field two very competitive teams at the end of the upcoming camp.

"It's great to see a core group of players from last year returning to the squad - Tim Hogan, Caleb Clarke, Xavier Numia and Flynn Thomas, along with returning 2015 New Zealand Barbarians Schools players in Ajay Mua, Ciarahn Matoe, Tim Farrell and Brayden Iose. Their experience will certainly be of huge value.

"It's also really pleasing to see so many schools represented which underlines how healthy the secondary school game is in this country. This bodes well for the future of the game here," Sexton said.

New Zealand Schools schedule:
October 3
New Zealand Barbarians Schools v Australia Schools
NZ Schools v Fiji Schools
Mt Albert Grammar, Auckland

October 8
New Zealand Barbarians Schools v Fiji Schools
New Zealand Schools v Australia Schools
Auckland Grammar, Auckland


NZ Schools extended squad:
Props: Sam Matenga (Gisborne BHS), Kianu Kereru-Symes (Hastings BHS), Rob Cobb (MAGS), Michael Palmer (MAGS), Tim Farrell (Napier BHS), Damon Abraham (Sacred Heart), Tevita Mafileo (St Kentigern), Xavier Numia (St Pat's Town), Sue Asomua (Wesley); Hookers: Perry Karati (Burnside HS), Bradley Slater (New Plymouth BHS), Ricky Jackson (Otago BHS), Flynn Thomas (Southland BHS); Locks: Liam Bauckman (Hastings BHS), Waimana Reidlinger-Kapa (MAGS), Cameron Suafoa (St Peter's, Auckland), Laghlan McWhannell (St Peter's, Cambridge), Naitoa Ah Kuoi (Wellington), Tupou Vaai (Wesley), Joshua Hill (South Otago HS); Loose forwards: Sione Havili (Auckland Grammar), Naera Tipoki (Gisborne BHS), Joe Johnston (King's), Will Tremain (Napier BHS), Sam Dickson (Otago BHS), Matene Ruawai (Palmerston North BHS), Hoskins Sotutu (Sacred Heart); No 8s: Ajay Mua (King's), Kaylum Boshier (New Plymouth BHS), Brayden Iose (Palmerston North BHS); Halfbacks: Folau Fakatava (Hastings BHS), Tim Hogan (Otago BHS), Te Ra Whata (Rotorua BHS), Carlos Price (St Kentigern); First fives: Lincoln McClutchie (Hastings BHS), Ciarahn Matoe (King's), Kaleb Trask (Rotorua BHS), Harry Plummer (St Peter's, Auckland); Second fives: Quinn Tupaea (Hamilton BHS), Paul Roache (MAGS), Tanielu Tele'a (St Kentigern), Scott Gregory (Whangarei BHS); Centres: Hayze Perham (Rotorua BHS), Billy Proctor (St Pat's Town); Wings: Mosese Dawai (Feilding HS), Vilimoni Koroi (Feilding HS), Caleb Clarke (MAGS), Leicester Faingaanuku (Nelson), Connor Garden-Bachop (wing); Fullbacks: Ngane Punivai (Christ's), Danny Toala (Hastings BHS), Niven Longopoa (MAGS), Reece Plumtree (Wellington)

- NZ Herald

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