Firxt XV rugby expert Herschel Fruean runs through the games and players to watch this Saturday as we reach the business end of the schoolboy rugby season, with winners this weekend claiming their regional titles, and qualifying for the Top 4.
BLUES: King's College vs Westlake Boys' High School - 2.30pm at King's College
CHIEFS: Hamilton Boys' High School vs Tauranga Boys' College - 12.00pm at Hamilton Boys High School
HURRICANES: Hastings Boys' High School vs Palmerston North Boys' High School - 2.40 pm at Massey Institute Sports
SOUTH ISLAND: Otago Boys' High School vs Nelson College - 12.00pm at Littlebourne
BLUES: St Kentigern College vs Rangitoto College - 1.00pm at St Kentigern College
CHIEFS: Manurewa High School vs Trident High School - 12.00pm at Manurewa High
HURRICANES: Feilding High School vs Aotea College - 1.00pm at CET Arena
SOUTH ISLAND: St Andrews College vs Dunstan High School - 12.00pm at St Andrews College
BLUES: Onehunga High School vs Whangarei Girls' High School
CHIEFS: Hamilton Girls' High School vs Rotorua Girls' High School - 12.00pm at Hamilton Girls
HURRICANES: St Mary's College vs Manukura - 11.15am at CET Arena Field 4.
SOUTH ISLAND: Christchurch Girls' High School have qualified
Players To Watch
Joeli Rauca (Hastings Boys' High School)
One of the best one-on-one players in the country, Rauca brings so much energy and explosiveness to the game. Having played all year on the wing Rauca has made some massive breaks and scored some great tries with the system they run at Hastings Boys' High School. Rauca is a player that you need on your team to spark something up if you are stagnant or not getting anywhere. He is so strong and powerful that he needs a few players to bring him down.
Meihana Grindlay (King's College)
One of the best midfielders in the country right now, Grindlay has a real shot at making the New Zealand Secondary School team this year. Grindlay is an aggressive player that knows how and when to use his size and strength, but even though he is maybe the biggest midfielder in the country and physically dominant, he still plays smart. He runs great lines and also sells dummies - putting his body on the line so that other players can get free open space. If you want to see aggressive hard running rugby, Grindlay is the player you want to see this weekend.
Max Brown (Otago Boys High School)
A very skilled player with plenty of talent, Brown has been in the 1st XV for Otago Boys High School for three years now and has grown into a great player and leader. Brown can play almost every position in the backline and can create opportunities to score at any time or place on the field. He has a very quick left foot step that he can use to bounce outside his man and beat him with speed, and also has a passing game that will get the wingers free to run. Brown is going to be a hard player to stop for anyone in the country.
Treyah Kingi-Taukamo (St Kentigern College)
Even though Kingi-Taukamo is only Year 12 he is maybe the best school halfback in the country already. Kingi-Taukamo has the skill and passing ability to get any of his teammates in the right position to make ground, and is a smart player with a high rugby IQ. The forwards behind him will be marching up and down the field with more than enough chances to score tries and Kingi-Taukamo will be right there barking at his boys to push forward, like most great halfbacks do.
William Manuleli'a (Manurewa High School)
Still only Year 12, Manurewa prop Manuleli'a has made himself into a beast of a runner that has had so many highlight runs this year, finding his opportunities to run and making the most of them. Manuleli'a is also very unselfish and finds his open teammates when the play is starting to die down.
Ropati Sooalo (Aotea College)
Aotea College have a massive game on their hands but with a great opportunity to represent their region as the Hurricane Co-ed School. Ropati Sooalo is the man you want to keep an eye on when this team runs out, he will be in the centers and is exciting to watch every time the ball gets to his hands. Sooalo is a direct runner that doesn't shy away from the physical stuff but also knows how to stay on his feet, and in an attacking stance while dodging tackles. Sooalo is one of the most dangerous and dynamic ball runners we have right now - he will be very keen for a win over Feilding High School and will be tough to stop.