Earlier this year Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby team loosie Devan Flanders copped some flak from his younger brother and Hastings Boys' High School first XV loosie Cooper Flanders.
Cooper reckoned Devan may have sacrificed some of his speed as he bulked up to 105kg to become more physical at collision time. Cooper shouldn't have worried as his older brother knew what he was up to as his selection in the Hurricanes Super Rugby team this week indicated.
A 2018 and 2019 New Zealand under-20s rep, Flanders, 20, is one of 15 Magpies to be named in Super teams for next year and along with Māori All Black prop Pouri Rakete-Stones the only two yet to have played at that level. They are among seven Magpies to be selected in the Hurricanes team.
"I knew since halfway through last year that this selection was coming but I was still pretty excited to see my name on the squad list. It was pretty good to come home from holiday to that," Flanders, who was one of 10 Magpies to take an end-of-season holiday to Bali, said.
"While No 8 is my preferred position I will play anywhere to get on the field for the Canes at Super level ... even if it was for just one game," Flanders said.
A former Hurricanes under-18 and Development squad player, Flanders, will head down to Wellington on November 25 for his induction before the squad starts pre-season training. Like the other Magpies who have gained Super selection, Flanders, has already started conditioning work with Magpies strength and conditioning coach Luke Stephenson so he is prepared.
While he always tries to work on his speed Flanders said his main work on at Super level will be his dominance on the field.
"People need to know I'm there," Flanders said.
Opponents of the Havelock North club player at Mitre Cup level knew Flanders was there this season. During his 12 games he gained 150m off his 43 carries with an average gain of 3.5m. He beat four defenders, made four clean breaks and had six try assists.
On defence Flanders made 67 tackles and only missed five.
Magpies head coach Mark Ozich said Flanders has done well to take the next step after two seasons as a Canes apprentice. He was also impressed with Rakete-Stones' selection for the Canes and pointed out the 2017 New Zealand under-20s world champion had also progressed well over the last two years.
Ozich agreed the 15 Super players was an ideal form of consolation for missing out on promotion to the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership. There could have been 16, the Magpies' record, but All Black Brodie Retallick is having a break from Super play next season.
"These selections are proof local guys who stay in the Bay can be promoted to Super Rugby," Ozich said.
"When we go out and recruit players who we have gone with Super players and what we are building. They can use Hawke's Bay as a place to promote themselves to the next level which is a positive for a provincial union."
Ozich is looking forward to the February 29 Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and Sunwolves at Napier's McLean Park where the likes of Flanders and former All Black loosie Gareth Evans could clash with fellow Magpies loosie who will turn out for a third Super Rugby franchise next year after previously playing for the Blues and Crusaders.
"I know the boys loving coming home for a fixture like that when they get the chance. I'm sure that match will attract a good crowd and there should be a good atmosphere."
Flanders, Hurricanes midfield back Danny Toala and Highlanders halfback Folau Fakatava are three of four members of the 2017 national title-winning Hastings Boys' High School first XV who have been selected for 2020 Super Rugby squads. Taranaki winger Kini Naholo has made the Chiefs squad.
Former Magpies loosie and former Hurricane Tony Lamborn, who played for the United States at the World Cup, will play for the Blues next year alongside former Magpies halfback Jonathan Ruru. Former Magpies hooker Ricky Riccitelli will be back with the Canes again next year.
The Magpies Super Rugby players for 2020 are:
Hurricanes: Jonah Lowe, Danny Toala, Gareth Evans, Devan Flanders, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Ben May.
Chiefs: Sam McNicol, Tiaan Falcon, Brad Weber, Michael Allardice.
Highlanders: Folau Fakatava, Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, Ash Dixon.
Sunwolves: Brendon O'Connor.
The New Zealand Super Rugby squads for 2020 are:
BLUES: Beauden Barrett, Otere Black, Finlay Christie, Caleb Clarke, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Matt Duffie, Kurt Eklund, TJ Faiane, Blake Gibson, Josh Goodhue, Jack Heighton, Alex Hodgman, Jordan Hyland, Akira Ioane, Rieko Ioane, Tony Lamborn, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Sione Mafileo, Joe Marchant, Emoni Narawa, Ray Niuia, Sam Nock, Jared Page, Dalton Papalii, James Parsons, Stephen Perofeta, Jacob Pierce, Harry Plummer, Marcel Renata, Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa, Tom Robinson, Jonathan Ruru, Hoskins Sotutu, Mark Telea, Tanielu Tele'a, James Tucker, Karl Tu'inukuafe, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ofa Tuungafasi, Baden Wardlaw.
CHIEFS: Nathan Harris, Bradley Slater, Samisoni Taukei'aho, Ryan Coxon, Nepo Laulala, Atu Moli, Reuben O'Neill, Aidan Ross, Angus Ta'avao, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Tyler Ardron, Michael Allardice, Laghlan McWhannell, Lachlan Boshier, Mitchell Brown, Sam Cane, Pita Gus Sowakula, Luke Jacobson, Mitchell Karpik, Dylan Nel, Lisati Milo-Harris, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Brad Weber, Aaron Cruden, Tiaan Falcon, Damian McKenzie, Kaleb Trask, Orbyn Leger, Anton Lienert-Brown, Tumua Manu, Alex Nankivell, Bailyn Sullivan, Solomon Alaimalo, Sam McNicol, Kini Naholo, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Shaun Stevenson, Quinn Tupaea, Sean Wainui.
CRUSADERS: Michael Alaalatoa, Harry Allan, Scott Barrett (c), Ethan Blackadder, George Bower, Tom Christie, Whetukamokamo Douglas, Mitchell Dunshea, Cullen Grace, Billy Harmon, Sione Havili, Oliver Jager, Andrew Makalio, Brodie McAlister, Joe Moody, Luke Romano, Ethan Roots, Tom Sanders, Quinten Strange, Codie Taylor, Isi Tuungafasi, George Bridge, Fergus Burke, Brett Cameron, Mitchell Drummond, Ere Enari, Braydon Ennor, Leicester Faingaanuku, Inga Finau, Jack Goodhue, Bryn Hall, David Havili, Will Jordan, Manasa Mataele, Dallas McLeod, Richie Mo'unga, Fetuli Paea, Sevu Reece.
HIGHLANDERS: Liam Coltman, Ash Dixon, Ricky Jackson, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Josh Iosefa-Scott, Ayden Johnstone, Siate Tokolahi, Jeff Thwaites, Ethan De Groot, Pari Pari Parkinson, Josh Dickson, Jack Whetton, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, James Lentjes, Dillon Hunt, Marino Mikaele Tu'u, Shannon Frizell, Sione Misiloi, Zane Kapeli, Teariki Ben-Nicholas, Jesse Parete, Aaron Smith, Kayne Hammington, Folau Fakatava, Bryn Gatland, Josh Ioane, Mitch Hunt, Rob Thompson, Patelesio Tomkinson, Teihorangi Walden, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Scott Gregory, Ngane Punivai, Jona Nareki, Tevita Nabura, Josh McKay, Michael Collins, Chris Kuridrani, Connor Garden-Bachop.
HURRICANES: Pouri Rakete-Stones, Fraser Armstrong, Alex Fidow, Tyrel Lomax, Ben May, Xavier Numia, Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, Ricky Riccitelli, James Blackwell, Kane Le'aupepe, Liam Mitchell, Scott Scrafton, Isaia Walker-Leawere Vaea Fifita, Du'Plessis Kirifi, Reed Prinsep, Ardie Savea, Murphy Taramai, Devan Flanders, Gareth Evans, TJ Perenara, Jamie Booth, Jonathan Taumateine, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Fletcher Smith, Ngani Laumape, Vince Aso, Billy Proctor, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Danny Toala, Kobus van Wyk, Wes Goosen, Ben Lam, Jonah Lowe, Salesi Rayasi, Jordie Barrett, James Marshall, Chase Tiatia.