Brought to you by Wanganui Rugby
They've all had much shorter seasons to improve their game and get known on the regional stage, but the student-players of Whanganui have not been forgotten by the brains trust of the Hurricanes.
The entire Super Rugby franchise's coaching staff was on hand at Cooks Gardens on Tuesday to run the HYRC Regional Roadshow for First and Second XV boys and secondary school girls players – with around 68 attending.
This followed on from a Monday evening session for about 40 local coaches, with workshops on game plans, philosophy, and Hurricanes techniques for attack and defence.
Recruitment and development manager Darren Larsen said the Tuesday players session started with a nutrition seminar, followed by skills and then strength and conditioning, which was both theory and then practical around pre-game warm-ups.
The highlight was the following 30-minute blocks, when the group was separated into sections to learn from the experts on their positions.
Front row forwards went with Dan Cron, the locks and loose forwards with Chris Gibbes, the play-makers from halfbacks through to second-fives were with Hurricanes head coach Jason Holland, while the outside backs went with former 53-test All Black Cory Jane.
After the block sessions, Larsen said they combined back into full team drills – as he took the Under 15 players, Holland looked after the First XV, and Jane had the girls.
"We've just tried to put it all together; all the technical work that was done over the day, all the elements of how we like to see the game played – our philosophy around shape and width.
"Biggest thing has been the acceptance of learning – they've come in with a good growth mindset and been open to the day."
Plans for the roadshow had been made by the Hurricanes back when it was possible that no full rugby season might happen, under Covid-19 restrictions.
"We wanted to be in the community and get the big wide spread of all of the player groups here," said Larsen.
"For me also, as Hurricanes convener and recruitment development officer, we wanted to make sure we were also getting eyes across the players that were going to be coming through to our [development programmes].
"Even if they didn't get to camp, we now have an idea [who they are]."
For example, Larsen took a good look at nine members of the 2019 Wanganui Under 16s, who had gone to last season's Hurricanes regional tournament, while there are about five of the First XV players who could be going on to higher honours in the Under 18 system.
A good test of talent will be the Whanganui Collegiate v Feilding High School clash this Saturday, which will decide who finishes top of the Central North Island (CNI) South pool ahead of the semifinals
Both teams are undefeated and Larsen will be a keen, although neutral, spectator.
"It's always a dollar each way isn't it? We've spent this afternoon coaching the [Collegiate] First XV and tomorrow morning [Wednesday] we're with Feilding, so we'll see who learns and retains the most.
"It's going to be a good battle, looking forward to it."
Kickoff for the Collegiate v Feilding game at the school grounds is noon on Saturday.