Mark down Central Southland College student and versatile sportsman Stewart Thomson as a young rugby player destined for higher honours.
The burly Southland Under-16 prop of the past two seasons has created a favourable impression with officials and management personnel, including team co- coach Scott Meredith, who said he was "a big and tall lad who has been an absolute asset for us on and off the field for the last two years".
"He is mature for his years and quite witty."
Meredith said Thomson would technically enhance his worth when gaining lower body position. He possessed commanding physical dimensions, already weighing in at 108kg and standing the metric equivalent of six foot and three inches.
A son of Thomsons Crossing West farmers John and Christine Thomson, he was Central Southland College's most improved clay targets shooter last season under the auspices of the Nightcaps Gun Club and tutors Willie Watson, Russell Kelly and Tim Smalley and was also a valued part-time stable assistant for the respected Ryal Bush harness racing trainer Hamish Hunter.
Stewart became interested in harness racing after his father John, a justice of the peace, joined the Winton Harness Racing Club committee in 2004.
"He is a good type of young man of strong moral standards, fine work ethics and relates well to his associates, contacts and peers," Hunter said.
A keen duckshooter, Thomson said he would concentrate on the Highlanders Secondary School rugby competition this season for Central Southland College.
He has represented the Southland Under-16 team at both 14 and 15 from his Drummond Limehills Star Midlands team. His provincial team was last season runner- up to Canterbury in the South Island competition at Westport.
He said the team valued the guidance of manager Greg Smith, medic Rayleen Hogg, coaches Jeff Manson, Tom Wallis and Scott Meredith, also scrum structure expert Clarke Dermody, the former All Black and Stags prop.
"If the opportunity is there and I am capable of measuring up, I would give it a go," he said of a prospective career as a professional player in a few years.
Meanwhile, he had returned to Central Southland College to study agriculture, English, maths with statistics, accounting, joinery and Gateway (building and carpentry), in year 12.
A devoted outdoors man, he aspired to "getting a trade behind me to start off and to fall back on."
Thomson "thoroughly enjoyed" his involvement with the Spirit of Adventure Trust 10-day youth development voyage between the Bay of Islands and Auckland involving 40 trainees last month.
- The Southland Times