“I thought that was me. It was scary stuff,” Tim Farrell recalls of his health struggles in July. The deputy head prefect and First XV prop at Napier Boys’ High School was “rundown,” “sick” and captured glandular fever.
“I was in hospital for three days and had to spend two hours on a drip each day. I had a swollen throat so I couldn’t eat solids,” Farrell laments.
In the two and a half weeks Farrell spent off school things got even worse.
“I had an abnormally enlarged liver. I could hardly move and had to take antibiotics. I was told if I played rugby again I could have ruptured my spleen or done something worse. I was devastated. It was the worst month of my life.”
Remarkably Farrell has made a full recovery and was selected for the New Zealand Secondary Schools’ training squad to prepare for two internationals against Fiji and Australia in October.
“It was a massive surprise to be picked. I can’t wait to have the ball in my hands again. I don’t know a lot about the competition, but there are going to be some big, fit boys at the camp,” Farrell enthuses.
Between 2009 and 2012, Napier made the National Top Four three times in four years. Success has been much harder to come by since, but Farrell says he has no regrets in 2015.
“I made the First XV in Year 11 and that was a tough season. We didn’t play very well and I spent a lot of time on the bench. I felt I had a point to prove last year and I did that, but again the results weren’t great. This year we were up and down, but the brotherhood was strong and we came through some adversity.”
At the start of the season long-time coach Del Whyte was diagnosed with cancer and had to step aside.
“That was a big blow for the team. Thankfully Del has recovered. He is growing back his moustache and is back up to his usual antics,” Farrell laughs.
The Super 8 match against Rotorua Boys’ High School was no laughing matter. Rotorua travelled to the Hawke’s Bay as the defending National Champions and Napier had a major setback before the game.
“One of our prefect’s father died from cancer that week. It was a real shock around the school and we wanted to prove something. We got in their faces early on and they had a player sent off for punching. We won 24-23 which was pretty special,” Farrell says.
The ability to “get in people’s faces,” is something that has earned Farrell selection to the Hurricanes U18’s twice. He was rarely bettered in the scrums in three years at Napier Boys.’
“I have always been a prop. I never had much pace. I love the confrontational side of the game. It’s a great challenge.”
Head Prefect and Farrell’s “best mate” Will Tremain was also selected for the camp. Tim’s father John Farrell, a local sales rep, played for Hawke’s Bay during his rugby career. In the summer Farrell enjoys surf lifesaving. In 2017 he is uncertain what his rugby future holds, but would like to study at University.
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