Wanganui teenager Sam Malcolm has gone within a whisker of making the New Zealand squad for the Under-20 World Rugby Championships in Italy, starting next week.
The former Wanganui High School star back trialled for a spot in the squad in Tauranga on Monday and, while he played well, the decision came down to injury recovery in the Hurricanes Super Rugby team.
Confirmation that Hurricanes first five-eighth Beauden Barrett would be back from his knee injury has freed up stand-in No10 Otere Black to join the Under-20 team for the world championships on June 2-20.
Unfortunately, that was the same position Malcolm was trialling for, even though he is also an accomplished halfback.
“I was disappointed, but so thrilled at the same time to have worn and played in an All Black jersey,” Malcolm said yesterday.
“It’s been a childhood dream to play in the black jersey. I was happy enough with my trial game, even though I only had two days to prepare with the squad and learn all the moves.”
However, the door to the world championships has not been completely closed to the 19-year-old second year Massey University student. “I am on standby in case there are injuries. If Otere is injured, I may still be flown to Italy.”
Malcolm will continue to play for his university in the Manawatu competition.
“The goal is to become a professional rugby player and, if I continue to chip away at it, hopefully doors will open.”
By Iain Hyndman – Wanganui Chronicle