First XV rugby is back - and so is the Herald's weekly look at the top matches of the upcoming weekend and the players to watch. Today, Reuben Mama profiles Sacred Heart College.
Auckland's Sacred Heart College 1st XV coach Gus Leger is trying to teach his students to be better people as much as better rugby players.
"Everyone in this competition wants to be number one and I appreciate and respect that, but the way I consider success is when you see two or three years down the track and players that have come from your programme are having success, both in their lives career wise and for some that do fall into that small percentage, they do get to play rugby at a professional level," Leger said.
"We're an educational facility; we need to make sure we get that right. We don't always get it right and I don't want to be a hypocrite in and around that. We get some young men that don't quite get it until they exit and then they come back in four or five years and say Sir, now I get it. That's cool. Everyone has their own unique way around how they mature and we try to use rugby as a way of practising all those disciplines like time management, commitment, sacrifice and all of those things that are important. If you can transition that into your life then, funnily enough, things start to work out for you."
Leger has been head coach since 2014 and one of Sacred Heart's successful graduates he's seen progress on the field is powerful Blues No 8 Hoskins Sotutu – who's turning heads throughout Super Rugby Aotearoa.
"We're proud of where he's come from and that's where we consider our programme to be successful."
Sacred Heart have 14 year-13 students in their 26-strong squad and Leger says despite farewelling nearly half of last year's team, which finished third, they have a strong crop of leaders.
"The players selected Jadin Kingi to lead them for 2020 – playing at lock/loose forward.
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"Then you've got the likes of Sionekau Lokeni, a nice impact player who gives you that sacrifice we talk about. Our vice-captain Bono Napota is a really well-rounded young man.
"You don't hear him too much, but you definitely see him when he puts his best foot forward. Charlie Hankins started all the way from year 7 when we had a rugby programme set up. To see them come to fruition is really pleasing to see."
After opening their 1A account with a 58-0 win over Liston College, a much sterner test awaits away to Auckland Grammar School this weekend.
So what does Leger think it will take for his team to be top of the log at season's end?
"We've still got Brother Gerard here, a former 1st XV coach back when I was playing at Avondale College in 1992. That was first past the post back then, so he's said it's no different to when we played.
"You pretty much have to hit and run and really come up trumps. You just have to win games whether it's by one or going for the bonus point. You get these games here against the likes of your stronger teams, you just need to win by one point and then we head away and get ready for the next respectable opponent. "
Auckland 1A First XV Schedule, Round Two (Saturday, July 4):
Auckland Grammar vs Sacred Heart College: Auckland Grammar School: Field 1, 2.30pm
Dilworth School vs Liston College: Dilworth School: Field 1, 2.30pm
De La Salle College vs King's College: De La Salle College: Field 1, 2.30pm
Mt Albert Grammar School vs St Kentigern College: Mt Albert Grammar School Sir BG Williams Field, 2.30pm
Tangaroa College vs Aorere College: Tangaroa College: Field 1, 2.30pm
St Peter's College vs Kelston Boys' College: St Peter's College Field 1, 2.30pm