Kiama junior rugby players on Illawarriors New Zealand tour

While most 12-year-olds will spend their summer holidays relaxing at the beach, five Kiama rugby players will spend the holidays preparing for the trip of a lifetime.

The five players, Angus McIlwaine, Jasper Scobir, Ollie McCarthy, Tobias Crowe and Zacc Lewis have been selected for the annual under 13 junior Illawarriors New Zealand tour. The touring squad will spend the summer completing weekly training sessions in preparation for the eight-day tour of the South Island in April.

New Zealand bound: The Kiama junior rugby players who have been selected to tour New Zealand. Picture: Sylvia Liber.

New Zealand bound: The Kiama junior rugby players who have been selected to tour New Zealand. Picture: Sylvia Liber.

Angus McIlwaine was extremely excited when he found out he had been selected in the tour. He is most looking forward to spending a week in New Zealand with his best friends.

“Some of my best friends are on the tour, so I’m most excited about staying with my mates.” McIlwaine said.

The breakaway loves the physical nature of the sport and particularly enjoys tackling, but he most enjoys the supportive environment that permeates throughout junior rugby union.

“I like how the crowd’s always behind you and I always get to meet new people and I have a heap of friends from rugby.”

The team will play four games on the tour as they travel from Christchurch to Dunedin and on to Queenstown. They will also have plenty of opportunities to partake in sightseeing, cultural immersion and the popular adventure activities that Queenstown has become renowned for.

“The tour’s been going on annually for about 10 years and it’s not just about rugby,” team manager Anthony Keyes said. “It’s a chance for these players to develop personally and to develop the core values of rugby of teamwork, mateship and discipline. The feedback from previous tours is they go away as boys and come back as men.”

Angus’s father Ryan coaches the five boys for their local club Kiama, and he said they were all deserving of selection on the tour.

“They’re easy kids to coach, they listen and always do as they’re asked.” Ryan said. “They have a range of skills but they’ve all got good defense, attacking skills and fitness levels.”