Schoolboys' glory whets appetite for professionalism
Australian Schoolboys Team representatives Neori Nadruku, Andrew Robinson and Tom Staniforth are back in Canberra after playing in a tour of New Zealand. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
They've had a taste of international rugby and after finally helping to give Australia trans-Tasman bragging rights, the Australian Schoolboys' Canberra trio are hungry for more.
Neori Nadruku, Andrew Robinson and Tom Staniforth played on only the second Australian side to beat the New Zealand Schoolboys in New Zealand, but for now they are putting rugby on hold to focus on their studies.
Nadruku, Robinson and Staniforth returned to the capital yesterday, just a day after Australia's 16-14 win over New Zealand at Auckland Grammar. The victory gives a glimmer of hope for the future, as Robbie Deans's Wallabies struggle to match the All Blacks.
And despite returning battered and bruised after a three-week tour of New Zealand and Fiji, there was no time to celebrate as they prepared for the last weeks of their school life.
The three players hope their performances will launch them on to the Super Rugby radar.
''It's the pinnacle of schoolboys' rugby, the Australian and New Zealand rivalry,'' Robinson said.
''You couldn't ask for a better way to finish the schoolboys career. I don't know what I'm going to do now. I'm still deciding [what I'll do after school]. Rugby is always going to be there and it's hopefully something I can get into professionally.''
Robinson has been a star of schoolboy rugby for the past two years. He is captain of the ACT team and his development was fast-tracked when he was forced to play first and second grade for the Tuggeranong Vikings because he was told he was too young to play in the Canberra colts competition.
The St Mary MacKillop College year 12 student scored the opening try against New Zealand, pushing off the fullback before dashing 20 metres to get across the line.
The teams traded penalties in the second half and Australia held on for a two-point victory. It was the fourth time the Australian Schoolboys had beaten their New Zealand rivals in the past six clashes.
Staniforth was also a standout and hopes to continue his rugby career when he finishes his HSC exams at Canberra Grammar.
Nadruku, the son of former Raiders player Noa, did not play against New Zealand, but he got game time on the three-week tour.