Manawatu pair thrilled to make NZ under-20 team
Manawatu players Nick Grogan and Jade Te Rure will probably prefer never to have to endure such a fraught team announcement again.
They were sitting among the other 48 New Zealand under-20 team triallists at the Sport and Rugby Institute on Thursday morning when the names were read out - in alphabetical order.
Grogan heard the first hooker's name called, which reduced his odds. All he recalled was his first name being read out.
"Shock took over. It made all the sacrifices worthwhile," Grogan said.
Te Rure's was the seventh last name to come out.
He felt for the players who had been through all of the trials and missed out, and he didn't know what to say to console them. "I was pretty excited to make the team. I didn't even make the Hurricanes Schools so it was a big experience for me making the NZ 20s."
Te Rure had come in for only the second trial after being spotted playing for Manawatu selections against Iranz sides and slotting the winning conversion from the sideline for Manawatu Maori against Wellington Maori in Palmerston North.
"My [final] trial went pretty well in the first half," he said.
"In the second half I was in other positions."
He had played a bit of second-five and fullback as a Palmerston North Boys' High School fifth former.
Te Rure credits much of his development to playing alongside fellow NZ U-20s player Jason Emery from the fourth form, in colts sides through to the first XV.
Now Te Rure wants to press for a starting spot at the IRB junior world championships in France in June.
"It would also be good to get in the Turbos. That has been my main goal since I left school."
He was also a national junior boxer in his younger days. "When I left intermediate school I had to choose between boxing and rugby.
"It was tiring doing both and taking up all my time."
The boxing fitness levels were demanding, so rugby it was and he and Grogan were in the first XV which toured to Europe and which included a side trip to France.
Grogan is from Waituna West farming stock and weighs 103kg.
He likes farming but also fancies aviation and is studying for a business degree at Massey University.
"Hopefully rugby takes off. I was pretty proud to make the under-20s.
"I had high hopes but you're never certain of your spot until your name is announced."
He had the added stress of lineout throwing, having played hooker only since September with the Chobham club in Surrey in England.
It was close to Gordon's School in Woking where he was a Gap assistant.
"I loved it; I had the time of my life," he said.
He also went to Ireland and to Amsterdam, playing sevens with the Marauders club. Last year's Boys' High fullback Andrew McDougall was also there.
"Before I left I signed an academy contract with Manawatu."
He played for Hurricanes Schools but as a loosehead prop.