Hawke's Bay No8 Vinny Guildford received the ideal form of consolation for what he described as a "gutting loss" at this week's Hurricanes under-16 rugby tournament in New Plymouth.
Guildford, 16, a younger brother of New Zealand Secondary Schools No8 Levi Guildford and a cousin of All Black winger Zac Guildford, was named player of the tournament when the four-day event at Yarrows Stadium ended on Thursday.
"It cheered me up a little but I was still gutted we lost," said Guildford, referring to the Bay's 14-10 loss to Wellington in the final.
"I was shocked at first and then really proud of myself. I couldn't have done it without the rest of the team ... we all performed as one and the rest of the team inspired me to run the ball hard," said Guildford, who regularly broke the defensive line and had a huge defensive workrate in the Bay's three matches.
He said the award also helped cheer up his father Daren, who last weekend had travelled to Sydney intending to watch Levi play for the New Zealand Secondary Schools in their "test" against the Australian Secondary Schools. However, Levi was forced to withdraw from the match after being concussed during training. Guildford's father, a former Wairarapa Bush representative, watched the Bay's 6-3 win against Taranaki on Monday and 21-12 win against Manawatu on Tuesday but missed the final because of work commitments.
"Dad rang me up and told me how proud he was and pointed out this could be the start of a big career. I want to follow Levi's path into the New Zealand Secondary Schools team and in the future make the Magpies and Hurricanes teams," said Guildford.
"Eventually I want to overtake Levi. I know I'm a better player than him ... I've got that self-belief."
The Napier Boys' High School year 11 student, who has represented the Bay at under-14 level and Wairarapa Bush at under-13 and under-11 levels, was one of five Bay players named in the Hurricanes tournament team. Fellow NBHS players, openside flanker Luke McKenna and first five-eighth Adam Bradey, a younger brother of Magpies loosie Adam Bradey, and the Lindisfarne College pair of winger Mason Emerson and lock Ben Parsons, a son of former Magpies loosie Rod Parsons, were the others.
Speedster Emerson and prop Sean Morrison scored the Bay's tries against Wellington, who trailed 10-7 before scoring a converted try in the final 30 seconds to win the match. Emerson, Morrison, Napier Boys' High School lock Edwin Laver and St John's College midfielder Jonah Lowe, a brother of Hurricanes and Magpies openside flanker Karl Lowe, will all be eligible for the side next year.
McKenna, the 2008 Hawke's Bay Ross Shield player of the tournament, pushed Guildford hard for the player-of-the-tournament award. Another to impress for the Bay was NBHS midfield back Jesse Paewai, a son of former New Zealand Maori and Magpies midfield back Murdoch Paewai and a grandson of former New Zealand Maori and Magpies halfback Hepa Paewai.
Co-coach of the Bay team Dan Somerville was thrilled with the representation his side had in the tournament team and agreed others were unlucky not to make it.
"While it was disappointing we didn't retain our title we ticked every other box and in terms of player development for the province we couldn't have asked for anything more from the side, on and off the field," said Somerville.
Yours truly, who managed the team, is confident at least seven will become first-string Magpies before the end of their playing careers.