These first games that I have attended have been great and I have seen some players really come back prepared and “Fit to Go”. Obviously the standard of play wasnt something I have been watching because I know new year with new teams mates and some new coaches things wont all be smooth, also players are still trialing to make the 1st XV. Rotorua BHS for me have already changed my Pre Season Rankings, De La Salle College and Westlake BHS have as well, St Peters School really showed out and made me believe they are going to be a real hard team to beat. Im going to watch St Paul’s Collegiate this week and Palmerston North BHS as well on Saturday and Rosmini and Onghunga on Wendesday Im sure that all four teams are going to display some heavy hitters of their own. The teams in South Africa and also those that are playing with Pacific team have also been great to watch. So I want to make note of things that I have found interesting thus far in terms of players and give you a bit of a guide line to how things might go through out this year.
Sofai Maka Fullback (De La Salle College)
Watching Sofai play against Westlake BHS seeing his running style and his direct attack that he does on the run you can tell that you have something that is going to grow. Sofai made every run he did look so easy and the way he stepped in and out of lanes also got other players freed up to then carry on his attack. Once you see him run the ball the first time you know every time you see the ball being kicked his way or passed in his direction that you better play your best defence on him.
Zion Lui Prop (St Peters School Cambridge)
One guy I was really pleased with was Zion and seeing that his attitude has changed and that he is serious about being a leader in his team and wanting to win. Zion came back dropping I dont know how many KG’s but I am envious and proud of him at the same time. His work rate on the field has really picked up and his hits up have picked up and the more he drives his feet on contact the better he is going to be for his team. All his hard work is about to pay off with the season starting soon and so keep doing what your doing, hit the roads and gym and we should see this beast in action on TV soon.
Tiennan Costley No.8 (Westlake BHS)
What I liked most about Tiennan and he was constant through out the whole game was that he was catching the ball and taking it right to the line and pushing his way through tackles. There were times where Westlake were at a boring point to where they werent really going any where and they had no direction and Tiennan would come through and get them moving forward. I really felt that his presence at line out time was very important and needed to win that battle and when they went to defence he was tackling all over the field. I think over this year we will start to see a guy really show up on the National scene.
Niko Jones No.8 (St Peters College)
Another guy that put in heaps of work over the summer and came back looking more like an Open Side then and No.8 and the end of last year was more like a fit Prop. Niko has a very good running game that is very very useful out on the edge with the midfielders. He is quick enough now that he can become not just a crash ball guy or a mismatch effect but a play maker too. I think he is going to be interesting to watch over this year and keen to see how much of his game will change.
Matthew Graham-Williams Prop (St Kentigern College)
To me Matt actually looks like a Prop this year, he has now got the body type and he is way more effective during the tight stuff. He is really making guys work as he holds strong at the break down and he is just to big and to strong now that its one of those things that you just see him and then think “I’ll just wait for the next one”. I think his scrumming has picked up and he seems more solid in his legs and has better timing on the push.
Joel Cobb Center (MAGS)
Really surprised at how physical Joel can be and he kind of reminds me of how Jack Goodhue was when he was also at MAGS. I thought Joels aggressive approach to the line was what kept the defence at a stand still and so I think if he keeps that kind of play going through out the year this back line could really be dangerous. His defence was also something I made note of because he was covering two guys at once really making timing a strength in his defence. This will be the first year for me seeing him play consistently and so I hope he has more to show everyone.
Rylee Samuela 1st 5/8 (Auckland GS)
I have always thought of Rylee’s game as pretty unpredictable because you never really know which way he’ll go, what fakes he’ll throw and when, if he’ll run or kick, and everything with him is done off foot work and quickness. He is not a big kid or heavy or anything like that but he just managers to get out of one arm tackles and also shake defenders off their platform to get a clean hit on him. Im not sure where he’ll play this year if its at 1st 5/8 or Fullback but I do know that he’ll be exciting to watch.
Jackson Wiggans Lock (Sacred Heart College)
I saw Jackson playing last year in the Auckland East U16 Rep team, and he really stood out to me but I could place him in any uniform or anything like that. So as I do I did my home work and found out that he was from a smaller school and has now transferred over to Sacred Heart and he fit right in and right away. He is great at the front of the line out and he managers to get in the way of jumpers and fights in the air to which is something a lot of Locks dont do but Jackson competes. He is very fast around the field and makes the most of every ball he gets and fights with every drive of his feet. I think he’ll have a big year this year and looks to be a big part of the Sacred pack and I think he’ll be one to watch out for this season.
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