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Tamaira Raurimu-Carew's trail-blazing trial at the South Sydney Rabbitohs could have a knock-on effect for rugby league back in Nelson.
Following a week-long trial camp, Raurimu-Carew, 18, has a foot in the door for the NRL club's under-20 team. However, his trial has also opened up channels of communication between the 2013 preliminary finalists and Tasman Rugby League.
While Raurimu-Carew didn't make the squad this year, gaining a trial after just one season in the game is a substantial sporting achievement. And the former Nelson College student impressed enough that the Rabbitohs want to see more of him, asking for video updates throughout the upcoming season.
Acting TRL development officer and coach of the Tasman Titans under-17 representative side Ryan Charles attended the trial alongside Raurimu-Carew. While supporting the young Nelson talent, Charles was also busy networking and picking up drills and techniques from the professional outfit.
"I have been able to establish a good connection there with the recruitment guy, Grant Jones," said Charles. "They want to see footage of Tamira through this season and through him being there, this could potentially be replicated with other kids coming through in Nelson."
At the trial, there were two two-hour training sessions on Monday and Wednesday, all played in a heat well over 30 degrees Celsius. Tuesday was the conditioning and field session, Thursday was a rest day and Friday was the trial game.
Charles, a personal trainer at ASB Aquatic and Fitness Centre, said the feedback he received from the coaches was that Raurimu-Carew impressed in three distinct areas.
The first was a facet of his game many opposition players felt first hand when running down the edge against the Richmond Rabbits this season - hard-hitting defence. It was an element that helped the Rabbits to the Tasman Rugby League title this season and Raurimu-Carew to a Tasman Titans senior representative jersey at centre.
"They really liked his aggression on defence," said Charles. "They knew he had that physical side but in the trial game they were able to see that."
A Nelson College First XV player in 2011 and 2012, Raurimu-Carew decided to play league only this season. But his natural talent impressed Titans coach Phil Bergman, who organised the trial through Australian-based player agent Steve Gillis.
The young Titan's ability to pick up league-specific skills drummed into most of the other players over many seasons also impressed South Sydney's coaching staff.
"Some of the training drills they were doing were quite advanced," said Charles. "They put a lot of emphasis on running the guys ragged and putting them into game scenarios and skill-drills.
"The feedback I got was that he took on board everything and was able to implement that straight away."
The final reason South Sydney want to continue their relationship with Raurimu-Carew and, by extension, TRL, is that they were impressed by a well-rounded individual.
"They really liked Taimira; the coaches told me they thought he was just a really good kid," said Charles. "He is a good example to other players coming through the region. Now that connection is there, and he certainly did everybody proud in the trial, they know there are players coming through our region at that level."
For Raurimu-Carew, he was blown away by the professionalism and the standards set in the age-group programme and grateful to have been given the opportunity.
"Just walking into the place was awesome, seeing the senior lockerrooms and meeting some of the first-grade players," said Raurimu-Carew.
"The intensity in training was way higher. I learnt heaps about structure, the little things and all the other guys there were very humble."
The experience was new and the level of competition high, yet the most positive outcome for Raurimu-Carew is familiarity.
He said being there, knowing what is required, only makes him want to work harder to achieve his goal of an NRL career.
- © Fairfax NZ News