Hurricanes developing the all round player on and off the field

By Aroha Treacher
  • North Island: East Coast

The Hurricanes U18 Super Rugby camp being held in Napier has a strong focus on turning amateur rugby players into a new generation of professional athletes that conduct themselves well- both on and off the field. 

"We work around looking for the good person, so talent is one thing but not everything.  Character and work ethic is pretty big," says Darren Larsen, Hurricanes Recruitment and Development Manager.

It's a big opportunity for small town players like 18-year-old Atonio Walker-Leawere, who's brother Isaia is a Hurricane.

"It means quite a bit.  They're very proud of us both making it this far.  Especially me, starting off in Ruatoria most of my life and finally making the move to Palmerston North and trying to do something with my footy," says Walker-Leawere.

The boys are given a total holistic package during the week-long camp.

"A lot of these kids are Year 13 and so they're going to be leaving school next year.  University, things like that...trades, a lot of them are focused on that so we're just trying to help them get a pathway in terms of 'yeah, I'll become a professional rugby player' but what are you going to do after rugby?" says national selector Rua Wano.

The boys are under the watchful eyes of 10 selectors with about 25 people in total giving guidance and support.

"It is a development process and this is a development camp and so generally you're looking at a player here for 2021," says Larsen.

Only 48 players were chosen from more than 300 to take part in the camp.