On National TV at a sun-soaked Rectory in 2014, Tauranga Boys' College was on the brink of causing a major upset in the last round of Super 8 against Gisborne Boys' High School.
Behind 25-26, Tauranga won a penalty with the last play of the game - in front of Gisborne's posts just five-metres out from goal. What happened next would haunt Carlos Price for some time. He tapped the ball and was tackled by the Gisborne defence. He lost the ball and Gisborne won the game. It was the fourth loss Tauranga suffered by within 10 points in that Super 8 season alone.
"I don't know what I was thinking. I don't know if I was thinking at all. For a while I had the nickname quick tap," Price recalls.
While such audacious play didn't endear him to the Tauranga faithful it caught the eye of St. Kentigern College Head Coach Tai Lavea. The halfback was offered a scholarship and departed for Auckland.
"It was a tough decision, properly the toughest I have made in my life, but the opportunity to be involved with such a well-resourced and successful program and play 1A rugby which I believe is the toughest schoolboy competition in the world was hard to refuse," Price says.
Price was actually born in Auckland and was already friends with several St. Kent's players, including current New Zealand Under-20's halfback Sam Nock.
"I look up to Sam. I try to play in a similar way to him, but filling his boots is massive ask. Sam has been really helpful to me," Price says.
Interestingly Nock had a rush of blood which cost St. Kent's a three year unbeaten record in the 1A competition in 2014. He threw a wayward cut-out pass which was intercepted on fulltime by Otahuhu College. Price reflects on the advice Lavea shared with Nock.
"Mr Lavea told Sam he would rather see him throw a cut-out pass and back himself than go into his shell. He said to me Gisborne was offside. The licence to back yourself really appealed to me. We all make mistakes, but if you play without risk you can be left wondering."
In the 2015 1A final against Auckland Grammar, St. Kent's halfback Henry Saker made a big mistake. He conceded a penalty on fulltime when his team was leading 17-15 after tries by Etene Nanai and Sesimani Tupou. Price recalls his emotions when Grammar's Wiseguy Faiane lined up the kick to win the game.
"I dropped to my knees and prayed Wiseguy would miss. He is a great kicker and I felt for him, but it was such a relief he missed because all of our hard work would have gone down the drain."
This Saturday St. Kent's clash with Auckland Grammar. Grammar must win otherwise their semi finals prospects are all but dashed. St. Kent's have won eight of the last nine games, but four of them have been decided by less than five points.
"It's going to come down to who makes the least mistakes and taking the few chances in the game when they come," Price enthuses.
St. Kent's have taken their chances in recent years. Since 2011 they have won 105 out of 115 games, including four 1A titles. What separates St. Kent's from the rest?
"We have good coaches and resources, but we work really hard. It's close to a professional program here, it's pretty intense, but it pays off," Price says.
In fact Price argues St. Kent's have risen the bar for everybody.
"The competition is tougher this year. MAGS are looking real sharp. We lost to St. Peter's and Sacred Heart and even Aorere were hard to beat. They held us to three tries. Last year we beat them 89-0."
In February Price faced tough competition in the NRL Auckland Nines kicking contest. After his mother submitted video of him kicking he won the chance to compete against Andrew Johns, Johnathan Thurston, Carlos Spencer, Daryl Halligan and Mal Meninga at Eden Park.
"It was surreal to be with those guys. They were all really nice and Andrew Johns was a funny guy. Halligan won from Spencer and Mal only took one kick. I was third I think," Price recalls.
In his spare time Price enjoys "hanging out" with his family (he has three little sisters) listening to music and surfing. His dad is a commodity trader with property interests while Mum is a trained pilot.
In 2017 Price will head to the capital and commence either a commerce or Arts degree at Victoria University. He has been signed to the Wellington Rugby Academy.
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