Josh Southall was in a perpetual state of injury last year. The openside flanker from St Pat’s Silverstream recalls his various ailments.
“Early in the season I took a hit on my shoulder and was out for four weeks. Later I returned for the Rongotai traditional and their big centre Denny To’o stepped on my ankle so that was another four weeks. At the Hurricanes Under-16 tournament I got concussion. It was pretty frustrating,” he mourns.
This year Southall is relaxed and chatty having recently returned from Australia as a member of the successful New Zealand Secondary Schools team. Southall was one of only five Year 12 boys on tour. In 2016 Southall was a Hurricanes Under-16 Development player.
“My goal at the start of the year was to make the Hurricanes Under-18 camp that was the furthest thing I could achieve. I was shocked when they picked me to start the Crusaders match and when that went well I thought I was a shot at the New Zealand Schools,” Southall reflects.
Southall scored two tries in that Crusaders fixture. Scoring tries was something Silverstream’s First XV was extremely adept at in 2017. In 18 games the side crossed the chalk 157 times while recording 17 wins. Silverstream scored a record 606 points in winning the WelTec Premiership and swept their six annual traditional fixtures for the first time since 1988.
“The boys have been together for a while and I think that experienced counted. Last year we were winning pretty much every game at halftime, but couldn’t finish the job. This year we were more composed and our coaches did a great job,” Southall acclaims.
Southall identified the 46-17 win at the Gully against New Plymouth Boys’ High School as his favourite.
“The Gully haka is awesome. I have never seen anything like it. That game was our first traditional and important for building momentum.”
The New Zealand Schools had plenty of momentum across the Tasman. All three matches were won by big margins. Southall was the victim of a disgraceful spear tackle coming off the bench against Fiji. He enjoyed a strong hour against the Australian Barbarians before a solid 25-minute cameo in the test against Australia.
“I was pretty happy with the amount of game time I got. I am only Year 12 and Jeriah Mua is an awesome player so I expected a lot less to be honest. It was a pretty intense trip. There was a lot of training and whiteboard sessions. If you weren’t switched on, you were found out pretty quick.
Southall was named Silverstream’s Forward of the Year, an award that somehow eluded Wellington NPC sensation Asafo Aumua. In the summer Southall will take a break from rugby and focus on Waka Ama.
His father Todd is a police office and mother Tracy works in kitchen design. Josh’s younger brother Mitch Southall was a member of the Hurricanes Under-16 development team that won the Saracens Cup in the last school holidays.
Above: Josh Southall playing for the Hurricanes U18s earlier this year - watch his two tries including 35-metre solo try from a lineout drive and maul from 1.40 mins.
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