Meet the latest product out of the Sacred Heart College locking factory.

Nineteen-year-old Jamie Lane captained the 2013 First XV in the 1A competition and is now in the New Zealand Under 20s squad on tour in Australia.

In the last decade or so, this famous rugby nursery, which has produced the likes of All Blacks Cyril and Maurice Brownlie, Morrie McHugh and Manu Samoan second-rower Mata'afa Keenan, can in recent years count professionals Kurtis Haiu, Ronald Raaymakers and James Broadhurst from its second-row ranks.

Lane is flattered to be in such exalted company but knows this is just an early step towards what will hopefully be a pro career in the sport. He was a late call-up for the injured James Blackwell, the 2013 Wellington College First XV skipper.


One of the features of this New Zealand Under 20 squad is the number of captains, either at rep or First XV level, in the pack. Flanker Mitch Jacobson captained Lane's 2013 NZ Schools side, Liam Polwart was Lane's Auckland Under 19 captain last season and in the 2012 Sacred Heart First XV, while Blake Gibson led the Auckland champions St Kentigern in 2013, Mitch Karpik captained the King's First XV that year, and Josh Goodhue led the MAGS First XV too.

"There are heaps of us here (13 from the 2013 NZ Schools). It's quite good to see some familiar faces and the Auckland boys."

Lane is among the tall timber alongside Canterbury's Hamish Dalzell, Hawke's Bay's Geoff Cridge and Goodhue. The latter locked the NZ Schools scrum with Lane against Fijian Schools, though that is best left as a game to be only whispered about, like the 1986 Nantes test versus the French, as an unacclimatised New Zealand lost 22-20 in Penrith.

Lane emerged from school at just 92kg and knew he had to add some kilos to his wiry frame. That is why much of his club play for Marist in 2014 was a mixture of Under 21s and premiers, though he was aerially good enough to play in prems.

"Coming out of school and going up against 110kg premier boys was tough, but I've chucked on a bit, and am now up to 106/107kg," he says.

"It's very different coming into the club scene from First XV. You have the passion from school, but I enjoy Marist."

Some useful locks have played for that great old club, Robin and Marty Brooke among them. Lane played the first two games for Marist this season before joining the Under 20s. He knows what he has to do to force the selectors' hands when they name their squad for the Italy world tournament after the Australian campaign.

"Our role is to clean the rucks and make the gainline. There's been an emphasis this year to compete with those big English and South African fellas."

Lane knows an eye-catching campaign may push him into ITM Cup reckoning, particularly given Patrick Tuipulotu is likely to feature in the All Blacks' Rugby World Cup plans. But he is patient.

"You never know what might happen, but I understand I'm still young and I've got a bit more weight to put on."

Away from rugby, an engineering degree at Unitec occupies much of his time, so he may have to put any spare time in Australia to good use on the laptop or in the books.
New Zealand Under 20s head coach Scott Robertson sees plenty of potential in Lane.

"Rugby is about opportunity. It can change really quickly. Jamie's put on a bit of weight, and worked on his set-up at scrum. He's a great kid with a big future," says Robertson, ahead of tomorrow's opening Oceania Junior Championship fixture against Japan on the Gold Coast.

*Australia's captain is centre Andrew Kellaway, now in the Waratahs' wider squad. He was outstanding at the Junior World Championship in New Zealand, scoring 10 tries from the wing, to break the tournament record, previously held by Julian Savea.