Brodie Flannery played for the St Kevin’s First XV for the final time in Tuesday’s 18-13 victory over St Thomas of Canterbury College, and also surpassed 50 appearances for the senior side.
Flannery first turned out for the First XV in fifth form as a 15-year-old against South Otago, where he scored a try with his first touch at Murray Field – an occasion he remembers fondly.
Since then he has been deployed at fullback and sometimes as first five-eighth, but prefers to ply his trade at halfback, like his father, Dennis, who captained the side in the 80s.
“I enjoy playing anywhere, I started at fullback in fifth form and played at 10 last year and just ended up at nine this year, I like controlling the forwards,” he said.
The 18-year-old’s family history is closely intertwined with the school’s, his sisters also attended as well as his grandfather.
Flannery was unsure whether his granddad played senior rugby for St Kevin’s as he returned home in his final year of schooling to help on the farm.
Following a season that has been the school’s best in recent memory, Flannery cited the three wins over old enemy Waitaki Boys’ and the victory over Burnside High School in the South Island co-educational Schools Final as the most monumental moments.
“The blood match, it’s always good to win that, beating Waitaki three times is up there and beating Burnside to take the South Island co-eds was up there too,” he said.
The 2012 ‘blood match’ proved a baptism of fire for Flannery, with St Kevin’s being dealt a 37-6 mauling and a fifth consecutive defeat.
“I was bloody nervous to be honest, they were pretty strong that year, we got a bit of a hiding,” he said.
Only Flannery and dynamic skipper Jacob Coghlan remain from the 2012 side, and neither experienced another ‘blood match’ loss as the balance of power shifted.
SKC toppled Waitaki 26-8 last year before taking a 33-12 victory this year in one of three wins over the local rivals.
“It’s satisfying beating them, not many other St Kevin’s people get to beat them, so it’s good to do it for the boys that didn’t,” said Flannery.
St Kevin’s thrilling 16-10 win over Burnside last month sent them to Rotorua to take on the country’s finest teams and the chance of becoming the top co-ed school in New Zealand.
SKC went on to narrowly lose 15-14 against Cambridge High School in the semifinal, Flannery recalled the atmosphere amongst the players following Spencer Jones’ last minute drop goal.
“It was hard to take, all the boys were a bit down and out but we had done well to get that far,” he said.
Despite the disappointing defeat, Flannery reflected positively on the successful season and an accomplished period in which he has provided consistency for the First XV.
“It’s been an honour to play for St Kevin’s because my family have all been here, I’ll take all the friends I’ve met throughout the years,” he said.
“It’s hard to believe and put in perspective what we’ve done to get as far as we did.”
Justin Fowler has coached Flannery throughout his time in the First XV and praised the halfback’s temperament and dedication.
“Brodie has a great attitude and has been a dedicated and committed member of the First XV for the last three years,” he said.
“He is always looking to improve his game and he has a very good understanding of what is required to play at a high level.”
Fowler said Flannery’s knowledge has allowed his team mates to improve and will be following the youngsters career closely.
“He has also been very good at sharing his knowledge with others and helping them to improve their games as well,” he said.
“His willingness to learn and to develop his game are fine attributes and all of us here at the college look forward to following Brodie’s playing career in the future.”
Flannery is hoping to study civil engineering in Dunedin next year while continuing to play rugby, but will remember his time in the First XV fondly.
“I’m proud to have played with such a good group of boys, it’s a good environment and it’s fun, this year and the boys last year,” said Flannery.
By JAMES FORD
PHOTO: JAMES FORD – St Kevin’s halfback Brodie Flannery has played 51 times for the First XV.