Nine talented youngsters from Counties Manukau have been selected to the annual University of Waikato Chiefs Region Under 18 Development Camp.
Cohen Brady-Leathem (Pukekohe High School), Liukhane De-Thierry Rhind (Pukekohe High School), Ryan Michie (Rosehill College), Lenzs Morunga (Manurewa High School), Karaka’s Josh Penney (Auckland Grammar), Taeo Pomale-Time (Manurewa High School), Waiuku’s Jonty Short (St Peter's School, Cambridge), Tuakau’s Andrew Smith (St Peter’s School, Cambridge) and Tuakau’s Keran van Staden (Hamilton Boys High School) have all been chosen in the squad.
Junior Tolutau of Wesley College was named as a standby player.
Morunga and Pomale-Time are both in Year 12 and so have another season where they will be available for selection.
Those two players, along with Brady-Leathem, De-Thierry Rhind, Michie and Tolotau were all in the Steelers Pre Academy in 2021.
The camp is renowned for being a key event in the pathway for local players to make the step into professional rugby in the future. There will be a large focus on skill development and Chiefs culture, before playing two matches against the Hurricanes U18 in Turangi on Friday October 15.
The camp has a proud history of featuring well-known Gallagher Chiefs and All Blacks. Many current Gallagher Chiefs players, particularly current All Blacks have attended the camp including Sam Cane, Luke Jacobson, Tupou Vaa’i, Quinn Tupaea and Samisoni Taukei’aho.
Chiefs Rugby Club Player ID and Talent Development Manager Kent Currie is excited to have a plethora of young talent attending this year’s camp.
“We are excited by the group of players that we have selected – including the standby players. We have a number of First XV teams performing very well on the national stage at present, which is a credit to the quality coaching and preparation throughout our region.” said Currie.
Currie acknowledged that this year’s camp will be unique in the fact that club players have been invited to attend.
“I would like to congratulate the selected players. They have displayed quality skill sets, fitness levels and work ethic during their respective First XV and Club seasons. This will be the first time we have selected U18 club players to attend our camp. This is to provide an opportunity for those players within our rugby landscape that missed selection last year as an U17 Year 13 player and who could potentially fall through the cracks.”
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