Two Oamaru schoolboys are set to don Highlanders jerseys.
Waitaki Boys’ High School centre Ben Paton and St Kevin’s College prop Tupou Fifita have been selected for the Highlanders under-18 team, which meets for a training camp in Dunedin next week.
Both year 13 pupils said they were looking forward to the camp, and testing themselves against the best secondary school players in the region.
They would both like to make a career out of playing rugby and, although there was a long way to go, selection to the under-18 side was a good start, they said.
St Kevin’s coach Robbie Breen said it showed Oamaru secondary schools could produce top-level players.
“It is huge for Tupou. He is still pretty raw, but ultra talented,” Breen said.
“He is a big strong kid but he can also pass, run and takes good options.”
Waitaki Boys’ coach Wayne Kinzett said Paton had been a valuable member of the first XV.
“He deserves every bit of it,” Kinzett said.
“He is a strong runner with good ball skills and a good leader.
“Basketball, cricket, athletics – he is just a good sportsman.”
At the end of the camp, the Highlanders under-18 team plays the Crusaders Junior Knights at Alpine Energy Stadium in Timaru on July 12 at 12.30pm.