Sign New Zealand Secondary Schools rugby team hooker Tyrone Thompson now!
That's the advice from Thompson's Napier Boys' High School 1st XV mentor Brendon Ratcliffe to Hawke's Bay Magpies coach Mark Ozich in the wake of Thompson's selection in the national team at the weekend.
Thompson is the sole Hawke's Bay player in the New Zealand side that will play Tonga Schools in Brisbane on Thursday, the Australian Schools Barbarians in Brisbane on Monday and the Australian Schools in Brisbane on October 6.
"I picked Israel Dagg out of Lindisfarne College for the Magpies in 2006. I know it's unusual to pick a forward for a Mitre 10 Cup team while still at school but Tyrone is that good ... he has the size and mentality required. With the injury concerns the Magpies have at hooker Tyrone could be useful to the squad when he returns from Aussie," Ratcliffe said.
He pointed out Thompson is already taller than All Blacks hooker Codie Taylor and only 2kg lighter at 106kgs.
"I'm very pleased for Tyrone. He has had an amazing season and this selection is the culmination of that. There is no reason at all why he can't repeat what Devan did and be player-of-the-match against Australia," Ratcliffe said ,referring to current Magpies and former Hastings Boys' High School loosie Devan Flanders who won that award last year.
Ratcliffe confirmed the Hurricanes, Chiefs and Crusaders franchises are showing interest in Thompson, who captained NBHS to second place at the National Top Four tournament in Palmerston North earlier this month.
Thompson, 18, said he intends to use the Brisbane trip to enhance his value before making a final decision on his base for next year.
At the same time, he said, if the opportunity came to play for the Magpies upon his return from Brisbane he would be more than happy to step up.
With two other hookers as well as a prop who can also hook in the squad, Thompson said he won't be short of competition for the No 2 jersey.
"I was pretty overwhelmed when the team was named. It was an unreal experience and the boys are looking pretty good. There are a few big boys in the squad too," he added.
Two of Thompson's NBHS teammates, prop Patrick Teddy and blindside flanker Josh Gimblett were selected in the New Zealand Barbarians Schools team that will play the New Zealand Maori Under-18 team in Wellington on Thursday and Fiji Schools in Wellington on Monday.
"Josh and Patrick are two amazing young men. They are better young men through their experiences this year. They are better people first and they played better rugby because of it and that is what we are aiming to do," Ratcliffe said.
"Josh is more a lock than a six and this was his first full season at six. He is not a flash player but he has the backbone and engine you build a team around. He can hit 36 rucks in a game but doesn't make a song and dance about it ... he is the Andy Earl or Todd Blackadder-type of player. He has a massive future and is considering options in Wellington and Canterbury," Ratcliffe explained.
Ratcliffe heaped kudos on Teddy for the manner in which he made a successful transition from hooker to tighthead prop this season.
"This is his first year as a tighthead. He did it for the good of the team and is now one of the top three tightheads in New Zealand Secondary Schools rugby. This versatility will help him in the future."
Ratcliffe pointed out Teddy has a couple of playing options for next year to consider and is also hoping to do a building apprenticeship.
"We had the largest representation in the Hurricanes Schools squad this year. We provide a really solid pathway for these boys. Players don't have to leave the province and go to wealthy Auckland schools to make these national teams. Hastings Boys' High School proved it last year and we have proved it this year.
"Young Hawke's Bay players don't need to be seduced by Auckland schools and that is an important thing to understand," Ratcliffe stressed.
Former Napier Boys' High School first five-eighth Zarn Sullivan, who has attended King's College in Auckland for the past two years, has also made the New Zealand Secondary Schools team.
Another pivot, Taradale Rugby and Sports age group product Stewart Cruden, who attends Palmerston North Boys' High School, was selected in the Barbarians team.