The U13 representative season is underway and the team plays their only home match of the season this Saturday, hosting the Wairarapa Bush U14s at the Petone Recreation Ground.
This is the second game of a four-contest schedule in which the U13s played Auckland U13s last week and will meet the Horowhenua Kapiti U14s in Levin and the Hawke’s Bay U14s in Palmerston North over the following two Saturdays.
The Wellington U13s opened their account with a 12-22 away loss to Auckland, but manager Scott Ashton said this was a credible performance given the size difference between the two teams.
Wellington led 7-5 at halftime, before superior physicality powered the home side to victory in the second spell.
“The expectations were high but realistic around playing Auckland,” said Scott. “The boys were disappointed with the loss as Wellington has beaten Auckland in previous years and they realised they were not far off beating them again.”
The next three matches are against U14 opposition, as many provinces don’t want to play Wellington at U13 level due to Wellington’s historical strength.
The Wgtn U13 programme places emphasis on growing players both on and off the field said Scott.
“A lot of work is done on developing their off field approach such as mental, nutrition, planning and personal accountability. A great deal of skill work is involved at training to get the boys to where they need to be.
“Many of these players are very dominant in their own respective teams so there is a large emphasis on them learning to play to the team pattern and how to beat a team by relying on teamwork rather than individual flair.”
The team of 24 was selected from boys playing U13 grade for their clubs born in 2004 or 2005 and boys at college who are born in 2004. The split is 14 club players and 10 college players.
There was a rigorous and long selection process. Club and college players were viewed over the course of the season. Plus selectors attended all 3 days of the club based inter provincial representative tournament involving Hutt Valley, Wellington City and Western Bays. College players were trialled, and the elite of the club players and college players came together for one more final trial from which the squad was selected.
Northern United (five players) and Avalon (four) are the two clubs with the most representation in this year’s team.
The team commenced the programme with an induction evening, followed by a two-day training camp culminating in a training game against the 2016 U13 squad, which is a tradition for the U13 reps.
Two players were in the team in 2016 as `apprentices` and are back in 2017 as `leaders`. they are Jazziel Maene-Lokeni, who is the hooker and captain, and JJ Peo. No. 8 Emmanuel Solomona is the vice-captain. This year there is again a good sprinkling of apprentices - five who are born in 2005 and are eligible for the team again in 2018.
The head coach is Mike `Double` Woollett, a stalwart of Petone RFC (current senior club captain and junior convenor). Assistant coaches are Joe Uele (Rongotai College) and Heston Stanley (Tawa), who are both back from 2015.The manager is Scott Ashton, (HOBM Junior Convenor) who works on a lot of the off-field development with the boys and also managing is Murray Blandford WRFU Board Member.
The team`s strength is its front row with four talented props in Leon Tuiloma, EJ Roebuck, Shiloh Liko and Senio Sanele.
Jaaziel Maene-Lokeni (Aotea College)
Manakaa Dudley-Kiikoro (Avalon RFC)
Joshua Kennedy (Avalon RFC)
Liam Carroll (Avalon RFC)
Kelly Tangiwai-Scott (Avalon RFC)
Keanu Kotuhi (Heretaunga College)
Sam Mahy (Hutt Old Boys Marist RFC)
Leon Tuiloma (Norths RFC)
Jordan Chapman (Norths RFC)
Patrick Solomona (Norths RFC)
Emmanuel Solomona (Norths RFC)
JJ Peo (Norths RFC)
Damien Matofai (Pare-Plim RFC)
Alopoto Tuitama-Tiatia (Poneke RFC)
EJ Roebeck (Porirua College)
Ieti Campbell (Scots College)
Kane Hayes (St Pats Silverstream)
Paulo (Junior) Paulo (St Pat's Silverstream)
Alecpoe Leota-Mene (St Pat's Wellington)
Senio Sanele (Upper Hutt RFC)
Jack Su`a (Wainuiomata RFC)
Shiloh Liko (Wellington College)
Henri Bann (Wellington College)
Tofuka Paongo (Wellington College)