Southland Stags teenage hooker Flynn Thomas growing game by game video

Robyn Edie/Stuff

Southland Stags rugby player Flynn Thomas after training.

There was a moment after Flynn Thomas' first outing at Rugby Park for the Stags where it all hit home for him.

Southland had just lost to North Harbour and the teenage hooker, along with the rest of his Stags, walked into the Southland Supporters Club for the aftermatch function.

He spotted his parents and it all became a reality.

Flynn Thomas, 19, training with the Southland Stags in Invercargill on Wednesday.
Robyn Edie

Flynn Thomas, 19, training with the Southland Stags in Invercargill on Wednesday.

Growing up Thomas had travelled with his parents from Tuatapere to Rugby Park in Invercargill to watch Southland play on many occasions; now they were getting to watch him pull on the maroon jersey. 

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"A couple of years ago I was going there and watching the Stags boys come in [to the Supporters Club]. So walking in was a pretty special moment just seeing the smiles on your parents face."

Thomas was born in Taihape but as an eight-year-old he shifted with his family to western Southland where his parents still farm.

Thomas progressed through the age-group ranks and it quickly became obvious to those at Rugby Southland that they had a talent.

Last year, while still at Southland Boys' High School, both Rugby Southland and the Highlanders signed the 2015 and 2016 New Zealand secondary schools player for three years.

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Less than 12 months on from packing his school bag away Thomas has launched his career in the top ranks of provincial rugby.

It is a big ask for a teenager frontrower, but each game he is growing in confidence.

Getting game one under the belt against Hawke's Bay in Napier was probably the biggest hurdle.

"It was a pretty special moment coming off the bench. It is something you dream of running out for your province. Also, a lot of my family were up there.

"It was special getting to run out with guys like Boysy [Tim Boys], Dicko [Elliot Dixon], Scooter Eade, guys that you've looked up to coming through the ranks."

His time at the start of the year in Dunedin training with the Highlanders had provided a good boost in regard to preparing him for the demands of Mitre 10 Cup rugby.

"The biggest thing is just the physicality and the speed in the game. That is probably the most notable change I've felt going from first XV rugby to this setup.

"Other than that, I'm finding it OK. Every week I'm getting a bit more confident."

Thomas has come off the bench in the four Southland games to date this season.

However, with the Stags set for three games during the next nine days, first choice hooker Brayden Mitchell is likely to get a breather at some stage and in turn, Thomas is looming as a stronger contender to soon get his first start.

Thomas and the Stags' next assignment is against Auckland in Invercargill on Friday night.

Following the game against Auckland, the Southland will travel to play Bay of Plenty on Wednesday and then will head to Nelson to play Tasman the next Sunday.

 

 - Stuff

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