Josef Meek from Hamilton Boys' High School is more than a pretty face. The striking blonde was one of five boys featured on the Land Rover First XV rugby commercial promoting the season.
Meek is a national title winner in rugby, touch and sevens, but how did the chance arise to front the advertisement?
"Our manager Barbara Clark asked me to do it and I agreed. I didn't tell anybody in the team so when the ad first played everybody was shocked," Meek says.
The commercial was filmed at St. Kentigern College. It took two hours to record and Meek's reward was fuel vouchers, an umbrella and a couple of golf balls.
His autocratic nomination for the gig wasn't universally popular.
"I got a bit of stick for being in the ad. None of my teammates were asked to do it and suddenly this ad is turning up everywhere. It even turned up on the Discovery Channel. I didn't know Hamilton rugby players watched the Discovery Channel," Meeks laughs.
Hamilton's First XV season was no laughing matter. Hamilton won the Super 8 title for the 10th time in 11 years, trouncing Rotorua Boys' in the final. Rotorua would extract revenge by winning the Chiefs elimination semi-final, removing Hamilton from National Top Four contention.
"It was desperately disappointing to lose that match. It was an awesome season. We worked really hard to win Super 8 and to achieve our goal was incredible. Failing to achieve our second goal of defending the top four really hurt," Meek reflects.
The halfback learned a lot about captaincy throughout the season.
"Halfback is a good position to lead the team because your right in the thick of the action. When I started I found it tough. I worried too much and didn't know the right things to says. I got better," Meek admits.
Rotorua was later subject to a player illegibility investigation. Did this affect the outcome of the result?
"The rivalry between the schools' is intense because we play each other in Super 8, touch and a lot of sports where it's very close. I don't like to make excuses. The better team won on the day," Meek insists.
Hamilton was determined to be the better team on the day at the Condor Sevens. They won the Waikato schools tournament to qualify and competed in four open men's competitions to warm up.
"The men's grade was really tough, but it served a purpose even though we didn't win any of the tournaments. It hardened us up for the bigger teams in Auckland and gave us a sense of how to play sevens. To play good sevens, you have to play a lot of sevens. It's very different from fifteens," Meek explains.
At the Condors Hamilton reached the semi-finals with relative ease before confronting their arch-nemesis Rotorua.
Hamilton burst out of the blocks and eventually achieved a resounding 42-12 victory. Xavier Roe, the other blonde, scored two tries."
"Xavier scored a try in one of the TV games this year and they confused him with me. I had to say sorry to Xavier who is a really good halfback in his own right," Meek says.
In the final there was no confusion. Hastings Boys' High School was whitewashed 24-0. Stubborn defence and pouncing swiftly of mistakes saw Sevu Reece, Samuel Toa, Charlie Lawrence and Shaquille Sue Warra scored tries in the resounding triumph.
Meek was selected in the 12-strong tournament team. Meek illustrates the importance of his position.
"My role was to play sweeper. I had to talk a lot and help organise the team, put guys in space and act as a last line on defence."
This weekend Meek will represent Hamilton for the last time. The National Secondary Schools touch championships are in Auckland. Meek has been a Waikato rep since 11 and is seeking to repeat Hamilton's 2013 national title success, while stripping Rotorua of their present title.
"Last year we lost the final to Rotorua in a drop off. I am guessing Rotorua will be our main competition again", Meek says.
In 2016 the Chiefs Under-18 selection will head to Lincoln University on a rugby scholarship.
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