Prop performs well at NZ tournament

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Excelsior prop Sione Palaa looks set for a promising future on the rugby paddock.

He is a strong front rower who enjoys playing either side of the scrum and was North Otago’s sole representative in the Heartland U19 team that competed at the national Under 19 tournament in Taupo last week.

The Heartland team, a second side from Auckland and all 14 provincial unions took part at the tournament played at Owen Delany Park in Taupo which is a new incentive introduced by the NZRU.

Palaa wasn’t part of the first matchday squad to play Tasman due to strong religious beliefs which prevent him from playing on Sundays.

However, he was named on the bench to play against Southland and despite only getting a limited amount of game time he was happy with his performance.

“I was happy to be named on the bench against Southland and was pleased with how I went despite only getting a limited amount of game time.”

He was then named to start in the side’s final match against Hawkes Bay.

“I got to play the whole match against Hawkes Bay which was really cool.”

The chance of playing against some of the best up-and-coming talent in the country was something Palaa enjoyed.

“It was a great opportunity for me and my rugby to play against some of the bigger unions and get noticed by other provinces.”

The 19-year-old said he was incredibly thankful for the support he has received from the North Otago Rugby Union.

“They have been a tremendous help for me, they gave me a rugby scholarship to America last year which was awesome and they’ve been fantastic in helping me progress.”

The talented forward who won premier forward of the year for his Excelsior team is going to donate his playing jersey to the North Otago Rugby Union.

“I think I’ll give it to them so they can frame it. They’ve been awesome to me and I want to thank them for that support.”

North Otago Rugby Union chief executive Colin Jackson said that is a great gesture.

“He’s one of our most promising up-and-coming players who’s got a bright future ahead of him.That’s a lovely gesture, that’s a very nice gift, it would be wonderful.”

By BRAYDEN LINDSAY

PHOTO: BRAYDEN LINDSAY

DONATION: Sione Palaa is looking at donating his number one jersey from the Heartland U19 squad to the North Otago Rugby Union to thank them for their support.