I want to bring to you now "My Year 12 Team 2017" and I have to say this took ages because there are so many good players that it was hard trying to fit everyone, changing positions and making sure combinations were right as well. I thought this year’s Year 12 Class was so strong and I wouldn’t be surprised if a few of these guys make it into the Barbarians and NZSS this year. I thought the talent levels for everyone this year was very high and I thought we had a lot more specialist players in positions too that I found it harder and harder to really place guys in the right places to get the best out of them.
I want to mention Prop Tau Latu because he would have been a real beast this year but got hurt and was out for the year but look for him next year to make his case for NZSS. Now on to my selection, I went with Saula Mau a huge Prop that started slow getting over his injury but then came right and was blow’n dude out when he ran the ball. He was so fast and strong that he was just pushing tacklers over like nothing. I like his skill set when on the run that he’s always fighting to keep the play alive and will always look for his support. Patrick Thacker I didnt think was going to be as good as he is, I knew that he was talented and was going to be a solid player but I think turned out to be the best or second best Prop in the UC Cup. Zyon Holo another big boy that had a very consistent season always making ground, scrum got better as the year got on but you
always knew what you would get from him. The style of play at St Peters doesnt suit his skill set but he made it work. Pou is just a hard kid that doesnt back down or take any crap from anyone. He runs hard and low to the ground, aggressive cleaning out bodies and is actually a very fit player when you watch him the whole game. The Hooker position I have put in Mills Sanerivi who plays in the loose forwards for Kings College but trialed at Hooker for the U18 Blues. He obviously brings a lot of energy and work rate when he is on the field and his defence is what sets him apart from the other Hookers around the country. I think he will be one of the leading players for Hooker next year. I also like the looks of Tyrone Thompson from Napier BHS and I had other guys like Sam Rainger and Jacob Payne in mind too but I thought Tyrone best fit the team Im looking for. He is bigger then most cause he is pretty tall and he also is wide in the shoulders too and he can also fit in as a Prop as well, but he’s a big strong kid.
I went for some real height and length in the Lock position and even on my bench I went for two guys who were tall and talented enough to cover there too. Alex McRobbie from St Kentigern College is a real athletic player and to watch him get around the field he’s like a Blind Side. He will bring a lot of hard work and muscle to the pack and his defence solid. Sam Darry is 6’7-6’8 and even though is he really skinny right now he will get bigger and he will be the beast, well I think he’s going to be. Sam Darry will hit 19 years old and he’s is going to be a very good player because his body will then fit his height, right now he’s going to be in everyone’s face in the line outs and is going to turnover every throw he touches. On the bench I went with Loosies/Locks as cover, both players Terrell Peita from MAGS and Tyler Laubscher from Palmy Boys can fill both roles of Lock and 6/8. They are very good runners with the ball, Terrell is the beast kind of runner that gets the ball targets a tackler and puts his shoulder into his chest and keeps running. Tyler is better with avoiding the tackler with fends and foot work and can keep on his feet then find his support. I think these two would go well with the Locks of Sam and Alex and then fit very well with Thomas Martin, Andrew Vaine and Josh Southall my loose trio. I picked Tom at Blind Side cause he’s is only 6’4 maybe just under 6’5 and that in Lock position is to small when it comes to the highest Rep teams. Tom though makes a huge huge difference when he is on the field, I think he does so much work around the rucks and tackle ball that not having him on the field is not a smart move. So
if we look at all the height on this team Sam 6’7-6’8, Alex 6’6, Tyler 6’5-6’6, Terrel 6’4-6’5 and Tom 6’4-6’5 I think that creates a lot of size as well as height and seeing that on the field can be daunting for players. Josh is the only Open Side I have on this team cause I wouldn’t plan on taking him off at all. Josh has such a fast pace to his game and he really does make a lot of tackles and also is pretty good when put into space. His game for the U18 Hurricanes I thought was great and I think he could be in a Black Jersey this year even. Lastly my No.8 is Andrew Vaine from St Peters School and if you haven’t seen him play in person your missing out on how hard he runs and the noises tacklers make when he makes contact. Andrew is very fast and very solid and is hard to bring down, runs good angles and that’s what makes it worse for defenders. I thought he had a great U18 Chiefs game and really made his mark. He is a Young Year 12 and so he has an extra year on him too, the only knock on him is fitness but he has maybe two years to fix that up before he gets into the Pro Rugby scene.
I dont think there was much people wondering who would be in the 9/10 Jerseys because I think it’s simple, it’s Louie and Rivez and to me is the easy pick. Louie does everything fast and with accuracy, knows how to organize and get that ball out to the right players and keep defenders moving. Rivez has attack, kicking, the smarts, foot work, toughness and defence and I think he has the speed off the mark no one really talks about. So with the obvious out of the way I think the bench is important too and I think I picked two players that can fill in the spots for both Louie and Rivez really well and the system wont drop. Taufa Funaki has got to have the quickest 1,2 foot work I have seen and i have seen tacklers break ankles and go flying past to tackle him and he’s gone. Taufa has good defence and tackles hard and shoot up cutting off space as well which I like if you can do it right like he does. Tevita Hala had got a lot better this year learning from last year and really made things happen for his skills set as a 1st 5/8. Despite his size I think he takes care of things very well and moves to the line fast and with real purpose that it removes tacklers off target.
I really like the come up of Matt Timoko for Grammar this year and Im not even sure he’ll stay with rugby because he’s a league guy, but anyway I like him a lot. When he played against Quinn Tupaea he took it to Quinn better then I thought he would, he didn’t get one over Quinn but I think he made Quinn work harder and thats not easy to do. Matt is very explosive and strong when pushing players off. I put him in there with Valynce Crosby-Te Whare out of St Pauls Collegiate and with both of them being very physical runners I think these two could be very damaging together. Valynce is big and fast and can finish off plays, he can also link up passes and get his winger in the game and thats why I have Simeon Latu and Isaiah Punivai on the wings. I wanted to look for busting midfielders and then very skilled finishers that make good decisions and that will also come back to their support when stuck and just not kick the ball away. Ryan Barns at Fullback is the Knot that keeps everyone together and that will lengthen the field and use his boot to find that space down the back field and lead a charge to shut down, add his speed and I think this back line is set. Tahu Kaa can really go into any position and I think that when he does slot in he brings that life back to the field and will give the back line fire again.
1. Saula Mau (Auckland GS)
2. Millennium Sanerivi (King’s College)(VC)
3. Patrick Thacker (Christ College)
4. Sam Darry (Christ College)
5. Alexander McRobbie (St Kentigern College)
6. Thomas Martin (Hamilton BHS)
7. Josh Southall (St Pats Silverstream)
8. Andrew Vaiane (St Peters School)
9. Louie Chapman (Christchurch BHS)
10. Rivez Reihana (St Kentigern College)(C)
11. Simeon Latu (Auckland GS)
12. Matthew Timoko (Auckland GS)
13. Valynce Crosby-Te Whare (St Pauls Collegiate)
14. Isaiah Punivia (Christ College)
15. Ryan Barnes (Christchurch BHS)
16. Zyon Holo (St Peters College)
17. Pou Sorenson (Rotorua BHS)
18. Tyrone Thompson (Napier BHS)
19. Terrell Peita (MAGS)
20. Tyler Laubscher (Palmerston NBHS)
21. Taufa Funaki (Sacred Heart College)
22. Tevita Hala (Dilworth School)
23. Tahu Kaa (Christchurch BHS)