Major opportunity for Drummond

JONATHAN MCKEOWN
Last updated 14:09 07/12/2012

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The most testing examination Mitchell Drummond is to face in his burgeoning sporting career will likely double as his biggest opportunity to date.

Next month Drummond will spend three days in camp with the All Blacks Sevens team in Mt Maunganui under the tutelage of Gordon Tietjens, as the national team prepares for the NZI Wellington Sevens.

Of the 12-strong tournament team named after the national secondary schools BNZ Condor Sevens last weekend, three were selected to attend the camp.

Alongside the Nelson College First XV captain and New Zealand Barbarians halfback, Trinity Spooner-Neera, of Napier Boys, and Reneta Roberts-TeNana, of Auckland Grammar, were also chosen for the BNZ Condor Scholarship.

Drummond captained the Nelson College sevens team to the semifinals of the national secondary schools competition. Nelson College were beaten 21-19 in the semifinal by three-time champions Kelston Boys, but Drummond and team-mate Te Puoho Stephens still made the tournament team.

Drummond, a stout defender and playmaker with gliding speed, scored a hat-trick in Nelson College's 26-14 cup quarterfinal win over Rotorua Boys. He was also one of three players looked at for the best and fairest award, given to the tournament's top player.

He found out yesterday he had been given the chance to attend one of Tietjens' camps that have long since been inducted into New Zealand rugby folklore.

Although Drummond had heard the premium given to fitness at the camps described as "freakish", he said he was still raring to go.

"It is a special honour, and a massive opportunity to test myself against the best," he said.

The All Blacks sevens squad are in South Africa to play the Port Elizabeth leg of the IRB sevens series circuit this weekend. One of their extended squad members, Lolagi Visini, was in Drummond's position this time last year.

"The schoolboys of today are the Olympians of tomorrow, is something Titch always says," said Phil Gaze, tournament director of the BNZ National Condor Sevens.

"And when you think about guys like Lolagi Visini, who ended up as a nationally contracted player after attending the camp, it just shows one or all of these boys could end up in the team."

Alongside Drummond, who is also a New Zealand under-19 touch rugby representative, Gaze said several players from the tournament were being tracked.

This will bode well for other Nelson-based players to impress like Mitchell Hunt, Steve Soper and Kerehama Barrett.

Soper was named in the 2011 tournament team. At that time the whole team went into camp with Tietjens for a day, but this year the sevens mastermind wanted to change things.

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"After talking to Gordon Tietjens [the NZRU high performance team] decided to select three for the scholarship which is part of the NZRU Go4Gold campaign looking ahead to the 2016 Olympics," Gaze said.

"These players have been identified as having the potential to go on and represent the All Blacks sevens team. It is a chance for them to live, eat and breathe with the team."

- The Nelson Mail

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