TBHS captain Cullen Grace makes NZ Schools side to tour Australia
Timaru Boys' High School First XV's impressive captain Cullen Grace has made the New Zealand Schools team.
Grace, who was the stand-out for TBHS on the blindside has been selected at lock for the tour to Australia.
He is the first player from TBHS to make the NZ School's team since halfback centre Michael Newman (2008) and Nick Annear (2007 and 2008).
TBHS coach Gavin Miller said Grace's selection was a deserved reward for playing at a consistently high level over the past two seasons.
"It is an outstanding effort from him.
"Cullen was widely regarded as one of the best forwards in the Crusaders Schools competition and plays well in the bigger games."
Miller said Grace's wide range of skills would have helped him.
"He is good in the air, he is a good defender and is an intelligent footballer."
Miller said having made the NZ Schools side Grace was likely to become a sought after player.
"I guess he is on the that first step,and more opportunities are likely to come."
Miller said it was becoming an increasingly rare achievement.
Grace led Timaru Boys' High School to their first Crusaders Schools final and was also his side's top try scorer.
Miller said Grace also showed plenty of dedication, having to travel regularly to Christchurch to be involved with the Crusader Knights set-up.
Four other South Island players made the 25-strong side.
Nelson College wing Leicester Faingaanuku, who already been signed by the Tasman Rugby Union for the Makos, and Christ's College impressive centre Isaiah Punivai are the backs.
Two front rowers, St Andrew's hooker Shilo Klein and Otago Boys' High School 116kg prop Abraham Pole, also made the final cut.
Pole is the cousin of Otago hooker Sekonaia Pole.
Six players from this year's First XV national champions, Hastings Boys High School made the side along with three from losing finalists Hamilton Boys' High School.
South Island champions Southland Boys' High School missed out on having any players in the NZ Schools side but fullback Kaleb Talamahina made the New Zealand Barbarians.
The players spent three days in a development camp at Massey University's Sport & Rugby Institute in Palmerston North and the team flies out to Australia on Tuesday.
NZ Schools coach Jason Holland said there were tough decisions to make in selecting the team.
"The camp has been very high quality and the players have really applied themselves over the past few days.
"The guys have come to us in good nick and we've got a squad with strength and depth across all positions."
New Zealand Secondary Schools: Naitoa Ah Kuoi (Wellington College), Charles Alaimalo (Hamilton BHS), Sam Cooper (St Paul's Collegiate), George Dyer (St Paul's), Leicester Faingaanuku (Nelson College), Devan Flanders (Hastings BHS), Taufa Funaki (Sacred Heart College), Cullen Grace (Timaru BHS), Tauterangimarie Kapea (Hamilton BHS), Shilo Klein (St Andrew's College), Lincoln McClutchie (Hastings BHS), Jeriah Mua (Hastings BHS), Etene Nanai (St Kentigern College), Kini Naholo (Hastings BHS), Fatongia Paea (Sacred Heart College), Abraham Pole (Otago BHS), Isaiah Punivai (Christ's College), Rivez Reihana (St Kentigern College), Humphrey Sheild (Napier BHS), Joshua Southall (St Patrick's College Silverstream), Quade Tapsell (Gisborne BHS), Josiah Tavita-Metcalfe (Hastings BHS), Danny Toala (Hastings BHS), Quinn Tupaea (Hamilton BHS), Tupou Vaa'i (Wesley College), Tamaiti Williams (St Kentigern College).
New Zealand Schools Barbarians: Joshua Bokser (Napier BHS), Fergus Burke (St Paul's), Louie Chapman (Christchurch BHS), Luke Donaldson (St Paul's), Lesinali Tovo Faleafa (Auckland Grammar School), Samipeni Finau (St Peter's College Cambridge), Kienan Higgins (St Patrick's College Silverstream), Josiah Maraku (Feilding HS), Saula Mau (Auckland Grammar), Ethan McQuinlan (Feilding HS), David Meki (Rosmini College), Lemeki Namoa (Sacred Heart College), Oliver Norris (St Peter's College Cambridge), Simon Parker (Otamatea College), Taine Plumtree (Wellington College), Siave Seti (St John's College), James Stratton (Palmerston North BHS), Rico Syme (Christchurch BHS), Kaleb Talamahina (Southland BHS), Tane Te Aho (Hamilton BHS), Taine Te Whata (Otago BHS), Patrick Thacker (Christ's College), James Thompson (St Peter's College Cambridge).
New Zealand Schools v Fiji Schools, 2pm at Knox Grammar School, Sydney.
New Zealand Barbarians Schools v Tonga Schools, 2pm at Sport and Rugby Institute, Palmerston North.
New Zealand Schools v Australian Schools Barbarians, 1pm at Knox Grammar School, Sydney.
New Zealand Barbarians Schools v New Zealand Maori Under 18s, 2pm at Sport and Rugby Institute, Palmerston North.
New Zealand Schools v Australian Schools, 1pm at TG Milner Field, Sydney.