Ten players to watch at the National 19s

04/09/2019
  • By Adam Julian

The U19 tournament silverware.

Over 400 of New Zealand’s leading age group rugby players will be on display at Owen Delany Park in Taupo this coming week when the sixth annual Jock Hobbs Memorial National Under 19 Tournament kicks off. In no particular order here are some names to watch out for.

Disclaimer: Squads subject to change before tournament.

Harrison Boyle (Otago) – The fullback or first-five was a standout for an often struggling Dunedin outfit during the Premier club season. Boyle earned an Otago debut in the successful Ranfurly Shield defence against North Otago. Boyle boasts an educated right boot, sound judgment and an attacking flair that defies his relative lack of size. Boyle, in his second tournament appearance, is a Hutt Old Boys Marist junior.

Luke Donaldson (Canterbury) – The New Zealand Universities and briefly Under-20’s halfback has been recognized for his excellence by being named vice-captain of Canterbury. The Lincoln University senior brings a lot of energy and smarts to the nine jersey. Donaldson is the grandson of former goal-kicking University club and Wellington prop Bob Gregory, now a tenured professor at Victoria University. Donaldson was educated at St Paul’s Collegiate in Hamilton.

Lukas Halls (Taranaki) – Halls has arrived home to New Plymouth after attending King’s College in Auckland on a full scholarship where he made the most of his opportunities. The burly centre was selected for the New Zealand Barbarians last year after helping King’s reach the 1A final. Who could forget Halls late break, and near try, which nearly won King’s the match? Halls plays for the Tukapa club and played for Taranaki against Tasman on Sunday.

Taine Plumtree striding out.

Taine Plumtree (Wellington) – The New Zealand Under 20 lock has been in rampant form for Wellington in the Central Region Shield bagging a second-half hat-trick in the 83-7 win against the Heartland XV and scoring a try from halfway and creating another in the 50-7 crushing of Hawke’s Bay. Plumtree has trained with the Lions this year and is showing growing maturity and smarts as a leader.

Josh Gimblett (Hawke’s Bay) – The blonde-haired flanker was an essential part of Napier Boys’ drive to the National Top Four First XV final last year with his hustle and lineout excellence. Gimblett was selected for the New Zealand Barbarians Schools. In 2019, Gimlett played for the Old Boys University Colts who won the John E Kelly Memorial Cup for the sixth time in the past eight seasons and was a leading player in their 32-7 final win over Hutt Old Boys Marist.

Soane Vikena (Auckland) – The hooker nicknamed ‘Rhino’ is a product of Mount Albert Grammar School and toured Australia with the New Zealand Secondary Schools last year. Vikena helped Ponsonby win their 50th Gallagher Shield title and was prominent in a thrilling Colts final which Ponsonby lost to Grammar Tech 21-20; Tec have won 33 games in a row. Vikena has shown destructive form in the Blues seeding round.

Chris Hemi playing for St Pat’s Silverstream last year, now at Bay of Plenty.

Chris Hemi (Bay of Plenty) – Two years ago the Wairarapa born prop was a talented, but temperamental No.8 in the 2nd XV at St Patrick’s College, Silverstream.  In 2018 he switched to prop and was a revelation in the First XV that won 16 out of 18 games, including the Premiership title. Hemi was selected for the Hurricanes Under 18 and the Maori Under 18 who caused more than a stir when they defeated the New Zealand Barbarians and Fiji. Hemi is an explosive ball carrier and is in the Steamers Academy. He plays his senior club rugby for Te Teko club who won the Premier II division in the Baywide Premier competition and works as a teacher aide.

Quinn Collard (Waikato) – The first-five nailed a sideline conversion against reigning champions By of Plenty to ensure Waikato’s place in the Graeme Mourie Cup on Saturday. Down 17-11, Waikato would have been defending the Michael Jones Trophy had they not jumped from third to second in the Chiefs regional standings. Collard was educated at Papamoa College, Rotorua Boys’ High School and Gisborne Boys’ High School, featuring in the Chiefs Under 18’s for two years. Collard, who can cover fullback, played for Hamilton Marist in Waikato senior rugby this year and was a prolific scorer, in one game amassing 26 points against Te Awamutu Sports.

Antonio Walker-Leawere (Manawatu) –  The Manukura prop and brother of Maori All Black Isaia won the Karaka Cafe Player-Of-The-Tournament in the Central Region Shield after helping Manawatu reach the Premiership. A 28-0 setback against Wellington was followed by gritty wins against Hawke’s Bay (15-5) and the Heartland XV (19-14). A member of the University Rugby Club in Palmerston North and originally from Ngati-Porou East Coast, Walker-Leawere was selected in the Hurricanes Under 18 squad in 2018. He is powerful with ball in hand and capable on both sides of the scrum.

Chris Hala’ufia (Tasman) – In contrast to their seniors who sit atop of the Premiership standings in the NPC, the junior Mako have struggled losing to Canterbury and Otago in the South Island qualifiers and Wellington in a warm up fixture. In flanker Hala’ufia though they have a talent worth watching. A crunching defender, Hala’ufia was a member of the St Peter’s College First XV that won the National Top four last September. He scored the winning try in the final against Napier Boys’ High School, a strike later voted the ‘Sky Sport’ try of the year.

National U19 tournament Fast Facts

  • 400 players from 16 teams

  • 14 provincial union teams (one from each National Provincial Championship Premiership and Championship provincial union)

  • 1 Auckland Development team

  • 1 Heartland team (combined team with at least one player from each of the 12 Heartland Unions)

  • Two divisions – Premiership (Graham Mourie Cup) and Championship (Michael Jones Trophy)

  • Three match days – Sun 8, Wed 11 and Sat 14 September

  • 24 matches (8 per day)

  • Graham Mourie Cup winners: Bay of Plenty (2019), Auckland (2017), Waikato (2016), Canterbury (2015) and Wellington (2014).

  • Michael Jones Trophy winners: Waikato (2019), Counties Manukau (2017, 2016, 2015) and Southland (2014).

Wellington Record: 2014-2019

Year

P

W

L

D

F

A

Place

2014

9

9

0

0

369

90

1

2015

8

6

2

0

312

116

5

2016

8

6

2

0

277

124

3

2017

7

5

2

0

170

123

7

2018

7

5

2

0

235

132

4

2019

5

4

1

0

237

53

?

Total

44

35

9

0

1600

638

Notes

  • 27 different Wellington Lions.

  • A record 10 future Lions featured in the 2016 team.

  • Wellington won the Central Region Shield as Hurricanes champions. The Shield has been played for a total of 36 times since 1984. Hawkes Bay have won the Shield 15 times, Wellington 16 times, Taranaki 3 times and Manawatu twice. The Shield was donated by Hawkes Bay Rugby Legend, Peter Loomes, who died in 2014. Loomes coached 13 Hurricanes teams at the U16 and U18 level to Championship Titles, before becoming a Hurricanes Age-Group Selector. He was also a member of the Hawkes Bay Rugby Referees Association.

Comments 1

  1. Chad

    Nice work- I would add Zarn the first five from Auckland to this list

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright Club Rugby