Stewart hopes final is not end of the line
Southland Boys' High School No 8 Jordan Stewart is desperately hoping his days wearing his school's first XV jersey don't end on Saturday.
The 18-year-old has in recent years developed into one of Southland's better junior rugby prospects, impressing in his 46 games for the Southland Boys' High School first XV as well as for Southland age-group teams.
He is one of three Southlanders, alongside Liam Howley and Greg Dyer, to this year be nominated for New Zealand secondary schools selection.
On Saturday the hard-nosed loose forward will get another chance to put his best foot forward because he's likely to be a key figure in the Highlanders first XV final against defending champions Otago Boys' High School in Dunedin.
The perfect scenario for Stewart would be to beat Otago Boys' on Saturday, then get past Marlborough Boys' High in the South Island final, before going on to compete in the national top four finals where he would bring up 50 games for the school first XV.
Stewart knows Southland Boys' have a challenge on their hands for it to pan out that way.
Southland Boys' only loss this season was to Otago Boys' when they went down 12-10 at Les George Oval near Invercargill.
"The boys played outstanding that day, it was one of our best games we've played and I think the OBs guys were a bit shocked with what we could do," Stewart said.
"Everybody is buzzing for this weekend so it should be a good encounter I think."
It has been a step up in 2013 from last year when Southland Boys' High School had one of their more disappointing seasons in recent memory.
Stewart said the positive progress was fun to be part of.
"We've bonded really well, that trip to Australia we had really helped us. As a leader in the team it's felt very good. It's been a pretty good season so far and it has helped me personally to get to the level I should be playing at," he said.
"We've prepared a bit more and we had a lot of young guys last year and they have done really well this season."
Stewart plans to stay in Southland next year when he hopes to remain attached to the Rugby Southland system and one day pull on the Stags jersey.
"I would like to go straight to premier rugby [next year] but I haven't quite made my decision on a club yet.
"I'll worry about my rugby this year first."
Saturday's Highlanders first XV final will start at 1pm at the Littlebourne ground in Dunedin.
Meanwhile, Menzies College will look to cap off an encouraging season when they take on John McGlashan in Dunedin in the playoff for fifth place in the Highlanders competition.
Menzies College progressed to the playoff after they recorded a dramatic win in overtime against Waitaki Boys' High School.
The scores were locked up at fulltime which prompted 10 minutes each way of extra time and with three minutes to play first five-eighth Greg Dyer landed a 40m shot at goal to win it.
- The Southland Times