“I am still shocked. I was pretty surprised. I thought Harry Plummer would get it,” Sione Havili reflects on his awarding of the Bronze Boot prize as the best preformed New Zealand player in the secondary schools rugby test against Australia in October.
Havili was the third player from Auckland Grammar School after Ben Atiga (2000) and Akira Ioane (2013) to scoop the award.
Since the inception of the prize in 1992 the following All Blacks have been bestowed the honour: Jeff Wilson (1992), Carlos Spencer (1993), Carl Hayman (1997), Jerry Collins (1998), Ben Atiga (2000), Liam Messam (2002), Victor Vito (2004), Charlie Ngatai (2007), Sam Cane (2009) and Ardie Savea (2011).
Havili shifted from Tonga to New Zealand as a shy 14-year-old and attained a rugby scholarship at Auckland Grammar School. He spent three years in the First XV, playing 40 games and earning the captaincy of the side in his final year as well as a prefect badge. This success has forced him to remain in New Zealand.
“I have signed with Auckland for two years. I will play for College Rifles. I am really looking forward to it,” Havili enthuses.
Havili’s parents live not from Nuku’alofa and despite missing his folks he dreams of becoming an All Black.
“Auckland Grammar has changed my life. Mr Askew, Mr Hansen and all my teachers and the boys have helped me become the person I am today,” Havili acclaims.
Havili also admires Beyonce.
“I listen to Halo before every game and it puts me in the right place. Beyonce always makes me feel better when I’m missing home or preparing for a game,” he says.
Havili says his favourite game with the First XV was the 2014 1A championship final which Grammar won against Saint Kentigern College.
“I didn’t play that game because we had more than two internationals, but I was so pleased to be a part of that season,” Havili recalls.
This year Grammar disappointed in 1A finishing seventh, but he says he learned a lot.
“I learned you can’t always be perfect. I became a better player from the mistakes I made and learned how to treat others better,” Havili admits.
Havili removed his favourite foods taro and Lu Sipi from his diet to improve his fitness, a decision that paid off. Havili made a jolting tackle which resulted in New Zealand’s first try against Australia and had a powerful all-round game that suggests he is well on his way to a big future.
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