Awatapu old boy selected for England
In a few years' time, there's bound to be a trivial pursuits question along the lines of: "Who was the first rugby international from Awatapu College?"
Answer: "The Palmerston North-born Dan Ward-Smith", who has just been selected for the England team's tour to Australia and New Zealand.
He also attended Waiopehu College in Levin, but that school has had a previous international, All Black Carlos Spencer.
A No8 lock, 32-year-old Ward-Smith plays for Wasps in London under former Waikato coach Tony Hanks.
Ward-Smith's brother Ben is the principal at South Makirikiri School near Marton.
"He sounds pretty happy there in London, " said Ben. "Hopefully he'll come back to live here eventually."
Ward-Smith married a Welsh woman in Las Vegas last year and they have a baby due in August. He is currently on holiday in Cyprus.
He returned to England with his British parents when he was three and came back to New Zealand 10 years later.
Ward-Smith played for Manawatu under-19s as a Kia Toa player before graduating to senior rugby with Marist.
He completed a degree at Massey University and then played all 12 games at flanker and lock for John Fisher's Manawatu team in 1999, alongside Brent Thompson.
At the time, he was rated the best lineout forward in the second division.
Ward-Smith left Palmerston North in October 1999 to play for third-division Plymouth Albion. He was a lean beanpole then and has since transformed himself into a gym giant of 115kg, but fast with it.
His father was living in Cornwall, so Daniel headed for nearby Plymouth, surfing on the beaches around the coast. He planned to return to play for Manawatu but was offered a professional contract at Plymouth and ended up scoring a club-record 93 tries in his six years in the West Country.
His career in England has been ravaged by injuries – 10 months out with a dislocated knee (which caused him to miss the 2007 World Cup), a broken hand in 2008, thumb surgery, a stomach infection ...
London's Independent on Sunday once reported that Ward-Smith "will be the first Red Rose player who is a quarter Maori, quarter Lebanese, quarter Scottish and quarter English" when he gets to play for England.
He once played for New Zealand Maori Colts.
From Plymouth, he represented Devon and played for English premiership club Bristol over four years, England A and now Wasps.
Born: January 2, 1978
Height: 1.93m (6ft 4in)
Weight: 18st 2lb (115 kg)
Nicknames: Roidy, Wardy, Mutant, Massive, Two Names
Schools: Budehaven Community College, Waiopehu College, Awatapu College
Clubs: Launceston (UK), Kia Toa, Marist, Plymouth Albion (1999-2005), Bristol (2005-09), London Wasps (2009-10)
Representative: England A 2006, England squad 2006-07, 2009-10.