This year’s Waitaki Boys’ High School First XV may not be its oldest, but with Jamie Rhodes involved, it may be the school’s strongest.
The Prime Strength and Conditioning owner has come on board as the side’s assistant forwards coach and strength and conditioning trainer this season.
Rhodes makes up part of a new-look coaching team led by head coach Jeremiah Shields.
“We are training as if we are professional,” Rhodes said.
“It’s all about educating these boys. I’m not driven by [how much they lift], I’m driven by technique.
“[Knowledge] is like cheese, you have to let it set.”
Rhodes is a Pukeuri meatworker by day and runs his gym, located upstairs at the Oamaru Rowing Club, by night.
As well as the Waitaki Boys’ First XV and basketball teams, he is training the Maheno netball team, Old Boys rugby team and the Excelsior rugby team, for which he is playing again this year.
He also runs sessions for the general public.
But do not call him a personal trainer.
“There are no quick fixes here, no six-week boot camps,” Rhodes said.
“I’ve been lucky. I’m 32, I’ve been at the coalface of this for 12 years.
“I started out with one barbell and one set of dumbbells.”
While working, Rhodes has pursued further study through correspondence.
Last year, while working towards his postgraduate diploma in applied science through the Otago Institute of Sport, he was awarded a Prime Minister’s Scholarship to spend two months as trainer with La Plata Rugby Club and its academy just outside Beunos Aires, in Argentina.
“The kids in the academy would start training at five in the morning.
“Their work ethic was second to none.
“They all look up to the All Blacks.”
Rhodes’ time in Argentina coincided with an All Blacks visit, and he spent some time with the team, paying particular attention to scrum coach Mike Cron.
“Their trainings were all about simplicity, the basics done well,” Rhodes said.
Working two jobs, and with a young family at home, does he get tired?
“Yeah, I get tired, but you have to embrace the grind.
“You can’t beat the culture or vibes down here.