Rugby: South Africa the priority for Napier Boys’ pivot Henry Williams

Barring injury first five-eighth Henry Williams will become the most capped Napier Boys’ High School first XV rugby player in history this season.

A third-season player in the team, Williams, 17, has played 44 games and if he plays the majority of the side’s games this season he could go close to 70. However Williams knows it doesn’t pay to look too far ahead and his immediate focus is the team’s trip to South Africa which begins tomorrow.

Williams and lock Frank Lochore, who both played at the World Schools Festival in Stellenbosch last year, will co-captain the NBHS team. A former Hawke’s Bay under-16, -14 and Ross Shield representative who made the Hawke’s Bay under-18 camp last year, pointed out this season’s NBHS squad is a lot younger than previous years.

“We’ll be looking at this trip to bring us together but at the same time I believe we’ve got the goods to do what we did last year.”

Williams hopes to crack the Hurricanes under-18 camp as well as the New Zealand Schools squad this year before he heads to university. He knows what his work ons are this season too.

“I need to develop my kicking game. We haven’t got as many running forwards as we had last year so I have to have a kicking game to enable us to use our pace out wide. I need to work on my decision making too.”

Fellow Year 13 student Lochore, 17, is in his second season in the first XV. He has a similar representative background to Williams and similar 2018 goals.

A grandson of All Blacks legend Sir Brian Lochore, who toured South Africa with the 1970 All Blacks, Lochore, was asked regularly about the family connection when in Stellenbosch last year. His grandfather gave him similar advice to last year for the tour.

“Have fun, enjoy the experience and take every learning on board,” Lochore recalled.

“I’m keen to improve my carries this season … I need to be more explosive with the ball in hand,” Lochore said.

NBHS will be one of four New Zealand schools at the 20-team festival which will involve 10 South African teams and another 10 from around the world. Southland and Christchurch boys’ high schools and John McGlashan College of Dunedin will be the other Kiwi first XV teams.

On their way to South Africa NBHS will play Dubai College on Friday.

At the festival, NBHS will play Boland Landbou on March 27 and host school Paul Roos on March 30. Boland are ranked among the top six teams in South Africa and Paul Roos are the top school.

“The fact we are playing Paul Roos in the last game of the festival is a mark of respect of how our school is seen over there,” NBHS head coach Brendon Ratcliffe said.

Williams and Lochore are looking forward to the clash with Paul Roos.

“Last year there were 20,000 fans watching Paul Roos in their last game … the venue was packed out,” Lochore recalled.

Last year Ratcliffe said the festival was a key ingredient in his team’s successful 2018 campaign which saw them win the Hurricanes title and reach the National Top Four final where they were pipped 31-28 by Blues champions St Peter’s College of Auckland.

Ten members of last year’s first XV squad are back again this year and when quizzed if his squad had the ammunition to repeat last year’s feats, Ratcliffe replied: “It’s up to the boys and how much they want to sacrifice and give of themselves … how tight they come together as a group to represent the jersey.

“Obviously last year we had good luck with the minimal number of injuries we had and that would have to happen again. But the stuff that is in our control I’m absolutely confident about.”

He is expecting big things from winger Jack Sheridan who missed a couple of last year’s games through injury.

Ratcliffe is taking a squad of 31, six more than last year, and a reflection of the developmental aspect of the tour.

One player on track to match Williams feat of three seasons in the first XV is 117kg hooker Iafeta Maa. The Year 11 student was a Hawke’s Bay under-16 rep last year.

Prop Mitchell Curran, a Year 12 student, is the heaviest in the squad at 122kg. Another of the props, Jake Ward, is 119kg and Jayden Walker, a Hurricanes under-18 prop last year, is 105kg.

The festival was held for the first time last year and was the fruition of a dream 2012-15 Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer had to bring the best schools in South Africa and from across the world together.

The full NBHS squad is: Frank Lochore, Henry Williams, Jacob Ward, Rob Slabberkorn, Jayden Walker, Caleb Turner, Qunta Tawhai, Jayden Stok, Austin Soanai Oeti,
Xavier Smith, Jack Sheridan, Hayden Saunders, Tipene Maxwell, Ethyn Martin, Iafeta Maa’, Thomas Lourie, Gilgal Leutele Malasia, Bethal Leutele Malasia, Jock Kilmister, Angus Kilmister, Michael Hoffman, Reece Henderson, Rakai Henare, Chaz Heke, Liam Gough, Nicholas Ennor, Trae Edwards, Mitchell Curran, Nathan Chappell, William Carter, Luke Baker.


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Publish date : 2019-03-18 03:12:59

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