Sione Palaa will train with the Highlanders today before jetting off to the United States on a North Otago Rugby Union scholarship.
The loosehead prop had a successful campaign with St Kevin’s College last season and will leave for Life University in Georgia on Wednesday.
Palaa will be in good hands at the elite rugby university, where the director of rugby is also the forwards coach of the USA Eagles Rugby Team.
North Otago chief executive Colin Jackson hopes the 18-year-old’s trip will pave the way for more local talents in the future.
“The North Otago Rugby Union is delighted and grateful that Sione has been given an opportunity to train with The Highlanders in Dunedin before he embarks on his study and rugby venture to the USA,” he said.
“We hope Sione will be the flag bearer for a lot more of our talented young rugby players in North Otago.”
Palaa said he was looking forward to playing with professional players today, but was a little nervous ahead to his scholarship.
“North Otago put me there to get a taste of professional rugby because that’s what it’ll be like in the States,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to it but I’m a bit nervous of what to expect.”
By JAMES FORD
PHOTO: DAVID DE LOREAN