Napier Boys' High School first XV rugby fullback Ethyn Martin has heard people compare him with injured All Black Damian McKenzie on a regular basis.

That isn't surprising. Despite his relatively small stature, Martin, 16, never shirks away from the heavy traffic on the counter attack and prides himself on his ability to spin out of attempted tackles by larger opponents.

Year 12 student Martin is also gutsy under the high ball and courageous on defence.

While McKenzie was good enough to earn a Super Rugby contract after one season of the Mitre 10 Cup Martin is eyeing a Sevens career as a stepping stone to Super Rugby selection.


"Next year is my last year at school and I want to earn a Sevens contract for when I leave school. After a few years of Sevens play I hope I become good enough for Super Rugby," Martin explained.

His selection for the Red Bull Ignite7 event in Auckland in November is an indication of his enormous Sevens potential.

Martin will be one of 48 male and 48 female athletes at the November 20 to 24 event where players vie for berths at next year's New Zealand Sevens development camps.

Athletes will be put through their paces with intense skill and team training before playing in a tournament which will be screened live on Sky Sport.

"It's awesome to be selected for that event which is a huge opportunity. So is the IRANZ Advanced Players course I've been accepted for in December," Martin said referring to an International Rugby Academy of New Zealand course.

Considering Martin is only in his second season of rugby and played at third XV level last season these selections are outstanding achievements.

Hawke's Bay-born, Martin, moved to Australia when he was 5 with his family. League was the main winter sport for him on the Gold Coast and he played hooker while on a league scholarship at Palm Beach Currumbin High School.

He represented Queensland Maori and the Gold Coast Vikings in the 13-man code.


"I prefer rugby over league these days but at the start it was daunting getting used to a new sport and making the right adjustments," Martin said.

Last year Martin was a New Zealand under-16 touch representative and his national team won two of their six matches against their Aussie counterparts across the Tasman.

"That was a good effort as the Aussies are so strong at touch. Sevens will become more of a priority than touch in the summer for me now," Martin said.

He is looking forward to improving his work ons during the Sevens event and December course.

"I want to be able to pass 30 metres both ways, talk more on the field and get more confident playing in different teams. This is all part of making sure my own game continues to improve," Martin said.

He has been clocked at 12s flat over 100m and is the second fastest in the Sky Blues first XV behind national surf life saving beach sprint champion and winger Wesley Akeripa.

Martin pointed out the NBHS squad have welcomed the two consecutive weekends rest from play and it has enabled injured players to recover.

"Obviously we need to keep the contact up and we will be having an inter-squad match this weekend as part of our preparation for our must-win game against Palmy Boys on August 17," Martin said.

NBHS have to beat Palmerston North Boys' High School in Palmy on August 17 to stay alive in the Hurricanes knockout qualifying series for the National Top Four competition.

Martin is confident his team can avenge their 27-15 loss in the annual Polson Banner clash in Palmerston North on July 31.

"It was pretty boggy down there so we know what to expect now. We've been focusing on our defensive connections and I've been working hard on my goalkicking after missing all four of my kicks in the wind down there last time," he added.