Heretaunga College is a proud co-ed school in the Hutt Valley with a 700-strong roll.
In rugby, the school’s most famous player in recent years is 53-Test All Black Cory Jane, while the sports co-ordinator is New Zealand Sevens Development player Max Pearson.
The First XV rugby team plays in Premier 3, two levels below the WelTec Premiership which includes the likes of recent national champions Scots College and nearby St Pat’s Silverstream.
But can those big local and national schools boast not one but two players who have been in the First XV for five years?
Meet Jannaia Fuimano and Markus Heemi. The best mates and Year 13 students have both been in the Heretaunga College’s First XV since Year 9.
Going into this weekend’s match against Hutt Valley High School, Jannaia has played 64 matches for the First XV and Markus 55.
Jannaia is the team’s captain and explained that they’re both utility players “Markus and I have covered most positions in the team since we started in Year 9, we even played together as props,” he said. “I mostly play No. 8 now, but have also played in the backs too.”
Jannaia has stepped up to captain the side this year, after being vice-captain in 2015. Markus is related to Apa Heemi who has played over 100 matches at prop for the local senior club side the Upper Hutt Rams and for the Wellington Maori team.
Jannaia said there are also young players coming through. “We’re quite a young team; we have some Year 10s and one Year 9 who has played already this year for our First XV.”
“It was quite a feeling starting off college and making the First XV, the rugby culture is not as big as other schools but there was also an U15 team and I was preparing to play for them when I first got the call up.”
He recalls his debut match for the First XV as being against Aotea College in a pre-season game.
“One of my very first games I played for the First XV I scored a try, and just the feeling of being a junior in the team with lots of Year 12s and 13s gave me a boost.”
He said many players in the team from recent years are now playing Colts for senior clubs. Wing Brandon Mudzekenyedzi who was in the Hurricanes U18 squad last year is now in Japan on a rugby scholarship.
Jannaia said the big games for Heretaunga College are always against nearby Upper Hutt College. In last weekend’s opening competition round Upper Hutt College beat Heretaunga 36-10.
As well as being the First XV rugby captain, Jannaia is the captain of both Heretaunga’s Senior A volleyball team and Heretaunga’s dragon boating team.
Heretaunga’s sports coordinator and New Zealand Sevens Development player Max Pearson helps out with the rugby team when he can, while having Cory Jane is an old boy is a positive.
“We’re all aware that Cory Jane went to our school and played for our team, it would be really good to see him come and watch us play!
“It’s great having people like him as former students, it shows that little schools like us also have people achieving in sport to a high level.”
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