Rugby or cricket? Cricket or rugby?
At some stage sooner rather than later, multi-talented Westlake Boys’ High School sportsman Jock McKenzie will likely have to choose between the two sports that recently saw him represent New Zealand teams in both sports in the space of a week.
“I have been playing both all my life. I don’t have a preference for either, I just want to play both for as long as I can,” enthused Jock.
For good reason too. Jock recently swapped his rugby boots for his cricket pads in a whirlwind week that saw him leave camp with the New Zealand Māori U18 rugby team and join the New Zealand U19 cricketers for their 50-over series against their Bangladesh counterparts at Lincoln University.
“I played the last four cricket games, but I missed the first one on the Sunday as I got home from the rugby camp on the Thursday night and then went to school on the Friday for the last time. I flew out Saturday morning, joining the team for the next week of cricket.
“That was a good experience playing Bangladesh, after also playing Australia in a series of U19 games in Brisbane in July. We played well in patches in both series and we know the standard required to play against the top teams.”
The New Zealand U19 team for the U19 Cricket World Cup in South Africa is expected to be named in December. “It is a big goal of mine to try and make that squad.”
Jock (Ngāti Maniapoto) was part of the Māori U18 representative team that beat the Fijian Schools 46-13 in Rotorua and then beat the New Zealand Schools’ Barbarians 14-12 in windy conditions in Palmerston North as part of a ‘game of three halves’ fixture that also included the New Zealand Schools’ side.
As a cricketer, Jock is an all-rounder, who opens the bowling for Westlake and bats in the top or middle order. What’s his preference? “I want to be a batter that bowls, but it depends on the role I am given and I am happy doing both at the moment.”
The eight-team Auckland Premier First XI competition resumed this past Saturday, with the first of six 50-over matches before the end of the school year.
Vice-captain Jock made a quiet contribution personally, but his Westlake team had a good first-up win over Mount Albert Grammar School. Westlake batted first and scored 199 for 9 and then dismissed MAGS for 157.
The season starts fresh, with Jock and the other school leavers hoping to set a solid platform for the returning players to build on early next year when the points this term carry over.
“We made both finals earlier this year, but unfortunately lost both. One was to King’s College [the RH Marryatt Cup Final] and then the other was the Auckland Gillette Cup final to Rosmini College.”
Westlake are scheduled to play King’s next on 16 November, but won’t face Rosmini again until next February.
On the rugby field, he is a first five-eighth.
This was Jock’s second year in his school’s first XV and he helped them win the North Harbour 1A title, beating Whangarei Boys’ High School 31-7 in the final.
“We were pretty happy about that. Obviously we drew the final last year with Takapuna, so the goal this season was to win it outright.”
The Westlake First XV went through the regular season with just one loss and that was to Whangarei away early in the round-robin. As North Harbour champions they then met Auckland winners King’s College and missed out to them to end their 2019 season.
Jock is doing Cambridge exams, which are already underway. “I have already have one exam and my last one is on 11 November.” NCEA exams run right through to the end of November.
When he leaves school he will be linking up with his North Shore cricket club, while Auckland have offered him a provincial development contract for 2020 so he will be looking for a rugby club to join south of the harbour bridge.
College Sport New Zealand (CSNZ) thanks the One Foundation for their support with this and other stories in 2019 on College Sport Media.
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