Wealth of school rugby talent
Five South Island players have made the 23-strong squad for the New Zealand Schools team to play tests against Australian Schools and Samoan Schools.
A quartet from Otago Boys' High School, who lost the New Zealand schools final to St Kentigern, have been included plus lock James Tucker, from St Bede's College
Roncalli College's Daniel Dorgan made the cut of 100 players from around the country but an injury meant he could not take a full part at the Lincoln camp, which hampered his chances, and he subsequently missed the final trial of 60 in Rotorua.
Otago Boys' four topped the country with hooker Sekonaia Pole, lock Troy Callander, No 8 Alex Fitzgerald and halfback Josh Renton all included.
Blindside flanker Josh Dickson had to withdraw after breaking three bones in his left hand against St Kentigern, otherwise it would have been five included.
New coach Nigel Hotham said he was very impressed with the calibre of rugby talent coming through the schools.
"It has been really heartening to see such great young talent out there.
"First XV rugby in New Zealand is in great nick and I believe it's the best in the world at this level.
"I believe it gives us an edge in terms of the depth and strength of talent among young players," he said.
Hotham said it is a wonderful opportunity for these boys.
"The dream of every rugby player is to become an All Black and I know that for these boys, this will be their first chance to pull on a black jersey," he said.
Hotham acknowledged two players who were not available for selection because of injury - Dickson and Christchurch Boys' High School's second-five Anton Lienert-Brown.
"I know these boys will be particularly disappointed but, at the same time, we are fortunate to have great depth in our selection choices."
New Zealand Schools take on the experienced Waikato Under-20s side as an opening test of their skills before playing Samoan Schools and Australian Schools in Auckland.
Six South Island players have also been included in a first-time New Zealand Schools Barbarians team, that will also play against Samoan Schools and Australian Schools.
The team will provide cover for the New Zealand Schools team, as well as giving younger Year 12 players an opportunity to experience international competition.
Christchurch Boys High School's centre Michael Green, Christ's College's first-five Damian McKenzie and St Bede's openside flanker Billy Harmon all made what is effectively the ‘B' side.
Nelson College first XV rugby captain and halfback Mitchell Drummond also made the Barbarians.
Last month Drummond was named the most outstanding individual player of the Press Cup secondary schools competition, receiving the inaugural Philip McDonald Memorial Medal.
First-five Richard Mo'unga from St Andrew's College has been bracketed with Otere Black, from Tu Toa, whose selection will be confirmed after a medical assessment.
In what has been an outstanding year for Otago, second five-eighth Aleki Morris and fullback Sean Conner also made the Barbarians side.
AT A GLANCE: The players selected for the 2012 New Zealand Schools team are: Troy Callander, Alex Fitzgerald, Sekonaia Pole, Josh Renton (Otago Boys' High School), Beaudein Waaka (Gisborne Boys' High School), Regan Ware (Hamilton Boys' High School), Matt Vaega (Kelston Boys' High School), Sinclair Dominikovich-Murray (King's College), Tevita Li (Massey High School), Trinity Spooner-Neera (Napier Boys' High School), Lachlan Boshier, Reuben O'Neill (New Plymouth Boys' High), Jamie Booth (Palmerston North Boys' High School), So'otala Fa'aso'o (Papatoetoe High School), Tom McHugh, Sam Thomas (Sacred Heart College), Jackson Garden-Bachop (Scots College), James Tucker (St Bede's College) Tim Cleaver, Broc Hooper (St Kentigern College), Vince Aso (St Peter's College), Vincent Sakaria, Etimani Sului (Wellington College).
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