All Blacks great Sir John Kirwan is mentoring a group of Northland youth by tackling some of life's tough issues through sport and the youngsters will be able to watch their progress on national TV.

The 53-year-old is a coach and mentor with charity School of Hard Knocks which has been holding a course in Whangārei with 16 young men and women.

The course will screen on Duke TV over eight 30 minute episodes from July 25.

The School of Hard Knocks (SOHK) charity has changed a number of lives for the better and was back in Whangārei on Friday while the youth took part in a sevens tournament.

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The charity, which originated in the UK in 2007 and began in New Zealand last year, uses sport to tackle issues surrounding unemployment, crime and health in communities.

This year the charity is working with Te Wananga o Aotearoa, so participants can gain an NCEA Level 2 qualification through their attendance. As well as classes in fitness-related subjects, they also have two rugby training sessions a week and a gym session.

Northern Advocate photographer John Stone went along to watch the progress.

School of Hard Knocks player Liam-Shae Harding, Whangārei, in the sevens rugby game against Kamo High School.
School of Hard Knocks player Liam-Shae Harding, Whangārei, in the sevens rugby game against Kamo High School.
Kamo coach Trevor Attwood gives his half time team talk at their sevens rugby game clash.
Kamo coach Trevor Attwood gives his half time team talk at their sevens rugby game clash.
Kamo High School's Jordan Dwight shapes up to tackle SHK player Michael Mahu, from Tokoroa.
Kamo High School's Jordan Dwight shapes up to tackle SHK player Michael Mahu, from Tokoroa.
Kamo High School's Angus Darroch looks to free the ball during their clash against the School of Hard Knocks.
Kamo High School's Angus Darroch looks to free the ball during their clash against the School of Hard Knocks.