A 51-man NZ schools squad has just been announced and with it brings a bunch of potential superstars of our game.
The first feature of the squad sees the inclusion of tight head props Alex Fidow (Scots College) and Sione Asi (Otago Boys’ High School). According to college rugby commentary, Alex Fidow tips the scales at 143 kg, while Sione Asi comes in at 135kg.
Both players make the current All Black props look small. Sione Asi has the ability to play both sides of the scrum while Fidow brings his versatility and speed, which gives him the ability to also play no 8.
One only has to look at the stats to see how influential players like Fidow have been for their colleges. Fidow has crossed the chalk 48 times from 60 appearances, which must be some kind of record for a front rower.
Into the backs, and no two players stand out more than the Umaga-Jensen twins. Peter and Thomas Umaga-Jensen are identical in skillset and they have been scoring tries at will over the last two seasons. Unable to play for the NZ schools last year due to school commitments, the Umaga-Jensen twins will look to fire big time in their first appearance in a black jersey.
Earmarked as the future centre pairing for the Hurricanes Super Rugby franchise, Tana Umaga’s nephews who hit the scales at over 100kg each bring with them pace, power and an offloading ability that would make Sonny Bill Williams smile.
Peter, the captain of the Scots College first XV, which made the New Zealand final is seen somewhat as a utility. He can play first five, second five, centre, wing and fullback. His brother on the other hand has converted from the forwards to the backs and now plies his trade as a second five eighth.
Sky Sport college rugby has mentioned him being over 110kg, so he is physically imposing on his opposition. With a combined 58 tries between them over the last two seasons – look out for these two as they make an impact for the NZ Schools side and into professional rugby.
Recently the four school prodigies starred together when they played for the Hurricanes under-18s against the Crusaders equivalent. 17-17 at half-time the Hurricanes blitzed the second half and went on to win 61-17. This just shows the strength, quality and impact these four players have on a team because that Crusaders schools team was by no means weak.
Sione Asi, Alex Fidow and both the Umaga-Jensen twins will look to the future with similar aspirations. Playing Super Rugby for their home town franchise, the Hurricanes, and furthermore representing the All Blacks will be at the forefront of their plans.
Sione Asi has signed a contract with the Manawatu Turbos for the 2016 ITM Cup, which will allow him to push for higher honours. The Scots trio have made no announcements on their playing futures but they are likely to sign for the Wellington Lions next year.
It is obviously important to not put too much pressure on these four talented players as they are still young but they are very exciting and show a lot of promise for the game of rugby in NZ.
Below is a video highlights package of the New Zealand schools semi-final between Scots and Otago Boys, played last Friday. Sione Asi is in the no. 3 jumper for Otago, while the versatile Fidow is wearing no. 3 for Scots.
The Umaga-Jensen brothers are in the centres, playing 12 and 13 for Scots.
For more highlights on this awesome foursome, just search their names on Youtube.
2.42: Fidow makes a 50 metre bust up field before the Umaga Jensen combine to finish it off.
4.19: Sione Asi smashes his way over for Otago Boys.
4.53: Peter Umaga Jensen makes an elusive run through the Otago defense.
7.21: Another Alex Fidow run eventually sets up another try
8.52: Sione Asi barges over again. This bloke is unstoppable close to the line.
11.57: Fidow and Thomas Umaga Jensen show their prowess to finish the game for Scots.
Simon van Ryn, Pundit Arena