Rugby dream comes true for Rui
Rui Farrant is keen to be a Wallaby.
The 9-year-old from Blackpool has played rugby for the last four years, taking the role of fullback for this year's Waiheke under 10 Sharks team.
Rui says he has scored a try every game this season - including one in last Saturday's draw against Ponsonby - and spends up to seven hours a week practising.
Rugby is everything, Queensland-born Rui says.
So imagine his excitement when he was chosen to guard the match ball at last Saturday night's Bledisloe Cup game between the All Blacks and Australia's Wallabies.
It was a special evening for the Farrant family because Rui got to take the ball out before kick off - even if the All Blacks did beat the Wallabies 51-20 in front of a sell-out crowd of 50,000.
Rui's favourite players are Wallaby Israel Folau and All Black Israel Dagg - both are fullbacks. He did not get to meet Folau but had a chance meeting with an injured Dagg on the sideline and shook his hand.
"I saw Israel Folau and Michael Hooper. They were at least 20 steps away.
"But there was one All Black who came up to me while I was spinning the ball," Rui says.
"He goes ‘did one of the All Blacks kick that ball over here?' and mum goes ‘no it's the match ball'. Then he said ‘oh just testing'," Rui says.
That All Black was Colin Slade. Rui says it was a funny moment.
Rui, who is home schooled, hopes to play for the Canberra Brumbies one day. From there, he would like to be selected for the Wallabies.
Mum Sarah Farrant says she is humbled by Rui's skills and passion for rugby.
"He'd prefer to not do his home education and just spin the ball or be outside kicking the ball.
"So we've just allowed that to flourish and give him the opportunities."
Rui played both rugby union and league this season, and brother Anam plays for Waiheke's under 12 Sharks A team.
He's grateful to Tim and Sandy Baker from Waiheke Island Foursquare who ran the competition that got him selected, and his coaches Tim Callaghan and Warwick Lewis.