Gene aims to fly high with special tertiary scholarship
Gene Te Amo has become the first to graduate from a special programme aimed at upskilling Counties Manukau's promising rugby players.
Gene has completed a Bachelor of Sport & Recreation at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) as part of the Counties Manukau Rugby Union (CMRU) scholarship.
Nominated by CMRU for the scholarship, the 20-year-old decided to study sport and recreation because he wanted to "turn his passion for sport into a career".
From Manurewa, he now aspires to make the Mitre 10 Cup squad with Counties Manukau in this coming season.
Sports has been a part of his life since he was five and he can play softball, touch, tag, and soccer.
"Athletics and rugby have had the biggest impact on my life," he says.
CMRU academy manager, Nick Leger says Gene was picked after he qualified with the "right amount of credits when he finished school at Wesley College. He was also selected for our Academy after very good performances for his school 1st XV, Chiefs U17 and 18".
Balancing study, rugby, family and fatherhood was "the hardest part of the journey," Te Amo says.
"Time management was key. So a piece of material that was vital to my success was my diary.
"I found that planning out my week with rugby training, classes, assignments, exams and other commitments was my best way of prioritising everything and knowing what my week looked like," he says.
The midfielder, who has a six-month-old daughter, says there is "no substitute for hard work".
"There will be times when you just want to quit, but you need to remember why you are doing it and whom you are doing it for".
To aspiring players, Leger from CMRU says: "People talk about having a plan B outside of rugby, but rugby is your life and long-term career plan.
"We are always stressing the need for all professional and aspiring professional athletes to ensure that things outside of rugby are well organised and put in place. Gene is an example of someone who has trained, played, travelled, studied, and started a young family".
Richie McCaw inspires Te Amo to push ahead in life.
"He did not have the mindset of 'I have done what is required, time to relax'. After rugby he has continued with that mindset [by becoming a pilot]. These qualities of Richie as a person have inspired me as well as his success as a rugby player," he says.
If not a sportsman, he says he'd follow in McCaw's footsteps and "would probably be a pilot".
Now that he's done with studying for the moment, he plans to get into the workforce straight away. He is looking for something within a gym or training environment.
He definitely wants to "go back to university. But in terms of rugby, I want to give it a real crack".
*The AUT scholarship is open to all CMRU players and aims to promote education and career opportunities beyond rugby.