Twin peaks with history in their sights
Thirty years after Southland rugby legends David and Paul Henderson played for the Southland Boys' High School First XV, another set of loose forward twins are carving out a reputation for themselves.
Year 12 students Jordan and Sam Stewart, 17, are following in the footsteps of the Henderson brothers and have both been integral performers for the team this season in the Highlanders First XV competition.
No8 Jordan played a full campaign with the team last year and his natural leadership qualities saw him awarded the captaincy duties this season.
Last year, Sam made six appearances late in the season for Southland Boys', and has stepped up his play in 2012 to win a starting position at blindside flanker.
Southland Boys' High First XV coach Marty Smith said he was pleased with how the pair were going and expected them to be key players over the remainder of their campaign.
"Jordan has grown another arm and leg this year. He's in the second year in that environment and knows all about it.
"Sammy is coming along and getting there. He's trying to establish himself as a six (blindside flanker). He's very strong defensively. He carries the ball well and has improved on all of his work-ons."
Smith said the Stewart boys set an outstanding example to the other players in the side with their work ethic and no-nonsense attitude at training.
"They've got a strong presence about them. They're very hard-working at training. They expect the best out of themselves and everyone else in the team as well."
The Stewarts grew up in Ashburton, playing for the Allenton Rugby Club from the age of 5, until their family moved down to Southland just before they began secondary school.
Sam said it was a great moment for his family when they took the field for the first time together at First XV level last season and admitted he had enormous respect for his brother on the rugby field.
"The parents were really proud of it. It's good to play with someone you look up to. He's a senior player and he's the captain. It's always good to try and compete against him."
Jordan, who is one of only four players to return from last year's Southland Boys' First XV, said he was surprised when he was named captain at the start of the season and said it was a massive honour.
Southland Boys' have produced 22 All Blacks since 1903, and every time they took to the field in the famous royal blue jersey, Jordan said they wanted to put in a commanding performance.
"It's a big honour to wear the blue jersey. You think of all the boys that played in it before you – Jamie Mackintosh, Jason Rutledge. It's big boots to fill."
They both still have another season to go in the First XV next year and Smith believed the future looked exciting for the duo if they could keep developing the way they were going.
Southland Boys' look to have turned the corner in recent weeks after suffering their biggest loss in school history to southern rivals Otago Boys' High 59-7 last month.
Since then, they have won their past three games – racking up 199 points and conceding just five in the process.
Jordan conceded the team felt like they had let themselves down in that lopsided loss and said they had put it behind them and learned from those lessons.
"It's the best thing that could have happened to us. The team is really starting to gel together," Jordan said.
"There were a lot of nerves going around [against Otago Boys']. For a lot of the boys, that was their first interschool. We look forward to hopefully playing them at the end of the year."
Southland Boys' face a crunch game tomorrow at home to Oamaru school Waitaki Boys' High, who have won seven from seven this season.
"They've got a few good ball carriers, so we've got to keep that defensive pattern and work well as a team," Jordan said.
The twins have got a busy representative season ahead, with both boys hoping to be part of the Southland under-18 team.
Jordan will head to Palmerston North next month, along with team-mate and tighthead prop Jacob Brown, to trial for the New Zealand under-17 side.
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