Pro rugby player scores goals for St. John’s College students

New St. John’s College Rugby Institute Coach Sam McNicol’s passion runs deep for educating up-and-coming players, on and off the field.

Despite hanging up his boots for the foreseeable future due to a series of injuries, the former Hawke’s Bay, Chiefs and Hurricanes fullback said the opportunity to take on the role was something he he couldn’t refuse.

“I didn’t think twice about it because I really like working with this age group. You see the most gains in the development of a rugby player who is between the early to mid-teens.

Alongside his role at St. John’s College, Sam is a Secondary Schools Rugby Development Officer with the Hawke’s Bay Rugby Union.

Sam credits his success as a rugby player to the development he received during his formative years and hopes to replicate that for the young players at SJC.

“Personally, I think a lot of my development as a rugby player happened in high school. That’s probably where I made the most improvements to then move on to professional level.

His career highlights include making his Super Rugby debut at the age of 19 for the Hurricanes against the Chiefs and then playing for the Chiefs in a winning game against Wales.

In his new role, Sam is responsible for the Year 9 and Year 10 players involved with the College‘s Rugby Institute.

“To be able to give back in this area is great. I really want to unlock a few abilities so they can perform and potentially achieve their dreams.

He says the rugby program at St. John’s College is very well placed.

“My aim for these boys once they complete the Under-15s and institute grades is to be capable and really promising young Premier XV players who can represent the school well.”

However, he believes their attitude off the pitch is just as important for success on the pitch.

“It’s about being really diligent, having a good work ethic and an open mind, and being willing to listen, accept constructive criticism, and move on.”

Acting Principal Willy Kirsten says Sam is a great addition to the school’s rugby foundation.

“We are delighted to have Sam on board. He has a wealth of knowledge and expertise that will no doubt help our boys develop and inspire them on and off the pitch.


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