Hastings Boys’ High School set the bar high in New Zealand Secondary Schools rugby this year winning the Top Four unbeaten and contributing half a dozen players to the national team. Hastings’ success is rewarded with two selections in this year’s list, but Hastings weren't the only ones flourishing on the field in 2017.
Our contenders are below for our third annual Champion of Champions series – vote in the poll below.
Leicester Faingaanuku (Nelson College) - Nelson College became the first team since Hamilton Boys’ High School in 2009 to retain the Moascar Cup for an entire season. Faingaanuku was a central figure in this achievement. He scored tries in the one point victories over Christ’s College and Timaru Boys’ High School. Additionally he was selected for the Crusaders Under-18’s and New Zealand Secondary Schools teams, scoring a try in the later fixture and going very close to winning man of the match.
Devon Flanders (Hastings Boys’ High School) - The strapping No.8 was an integral part of Hastings National triumph. A robust carrier and defender, Flanders was named man of the match in the National top four final and then went one step better when he was acknowledged as the Jerry Collins Bronze Boot award winner for his display in the New Zealand Schools’ 34-11 win over Australia in Sydney in October.
Kini Naholo (Hastings Boys’ High School) - The younger brother of All Black Waisake Naholo) scored 41 tries for the national champions, capturing the attention of One News with his prolific scoring feats. His big hauls included six tries against St Pats Town (subbed at halftime), five against Wellington College and Palmerston North Boys’ High School and three against Kelston Boys’ High School, Wellington College, King’s College, Rongotai College and Mount Albert Grammar School. Naholo was selected for the New Zealand Schools’ who won all three matches on their Australian tour. Naholo was named Sky Sport’s First XV player of the year.
Rivez Reihana (St Kentigern College) - The Year 12 first-five was an integral part of St Kentigern College capturing their fifth 1A title in seven years. Reihana was named Man of the Match in a televised fixture against Auckland Grammar School and was later promoted to the New Zealand Secondary Schools team where he was the starting pivot for the internationals against Fiji and Australia, keeping Hastings Year 14 general Lincoln McClutchie on the bench.
Josh Southall (St Pat’s Silverstream) - The only Year 12 in this list had a remarkable season going from a Wellington B selection in 2016 to a New Zealand Schools openside flanker. Southall was at the forefront of Silverstream’s historic season which saw them score a school record 982 points and win the Wellington championship for the first time since 2012 and all six annual traditional fixtures for the first time since 1988.
Quinn Tupaea (Hamilton Boys’ High School) - When Tupaea was injured in the National Top Four semi-final against Southland Boys’ High School it was a major blow for Hamilton’s title aspirations. The captain and midfield linchpin was the Super 8 champions best in 2017 and was sorely missed in the decider which Hamilton narrowly lost to Hastings. Tupaea wasn’t forgotten by the New Zealand selectors. He was chosen to captain the team on their unbeaten tour of Australia.
The Champion of Champion series is not intended to be a definitive list of the ‘best’ athletes in each code, rather it celebrates many of the leading athletes and teams in each that College Sport Media has followed this year. Preference has gone to those individuals/teams that CSM has interviewed and profiled in 2017. Got a story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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