Students rub shoulders with sevens star

BRACE YOURSELF: DJ Forbes tackles a Howick College student.
BRACE YOURSELF: DJ Forbes tackles a Howick College student.

A group of teenagers had the opportunity to tackle or rather be tackled by the captain of the All Blacks Sevens team.

Howick College students were treated to a visit from international rugby sevens star DJ Forbes to end the school year on a high note before heading into exams.

Physical education teacher Amy Mikkelson, whose brother is rugby sevens player Tim Mikkelson, invited the sevens captain to the school's staff versus students match.

"The tournament gave the students incentive to stay in school even though their exams are looming," she says.

Deputy principal Matt Messias says having DJ at school is a fantastic opportunity for the students.

"It lifts their morale to see someone of his calibre playing. What a great role model for them."

DJ says visiting Howick College is a chance to give back to the community.

"It's great to lift the students' spirits and is ultimately a bit of fun.

"Being here is good for younger children so they can see that I'm just normal and their goals are achievable," he says.

Seventeen-year-old Jaedyn Tuiloma says playing against one of his role models was "pretty intimidating".

"He's a good leader and one of the best sevens players New Zealand has ever had," says Jaedyn who scored a try against DJ.

Tuiloma's team-mate Faraimo Vai-ewart, also 17, says playing against the 1.9m sevens star was horrible.

"I couldn't catch him. The sun was shining off his head so I couldn't see him and it made me run slower and puff more," he says.

College director of sport Chris Hull says it was great to have DJ Forbes come and impart his knowledge and mana on the staff and students.

"At some stage every Silver Fern or All Black went to school. It's difficult to entice them back to the grassroots where their careers began.

"The kids got a buzz seeing a superstar and realised these people aren't god-like. They're actually just normal human beings like you and me."

Staff beat the students 6-2, a score Mr Hull says may or may not be thanks to their guest player.

Eastern Courier