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Hard training pays off for Westlake rugby ace

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Breaking away… New Zealand Secondary Schools representative Caleb Tangitau in action for the Westlake Boys High School Ist XV. He has played three seasons for the top Westlake team.

Rising North Harbour rugby star Caleb Tangitau has been selected in the New Zealand Secondary Schools side.

The 17-year-old Westlake Boys High School student was selected for regional development camps held earlier this month, and was then the only North Harbour player named in the 2020 Barbarians under-18 squad, before being picked in the national schools team.

“Being selected for this team has been my goal for all of my high school years. I was so excited and extremely grateful for this opportunity,” says Caleb. “I really enjoyed the camp and I have met some great boys from all across New Zealand and learnt so much from all the coaches.”

The team includes players from 29 schools in 12 different provinces, ranging from Dargaville High School in the north, to King’s High School in Dunedin.

King’s College in Auckland, Hamilton Boys High School and St Andrew’s College in Christchurch have the biggest representation.

Caleb played fullback for the Westlake Boys High School 1st XV, which was leading the North Harbour schools competition before it was interrupted by the second Covid-19 lockdown and later cancelled.

He has had three years in the team.

Of Tongan descent, Caleb started playing rugby at four years old. He still has fond memories of his first team and has his jersey still hanging in his wardrobe.

“My goal and my biggest dream would be being in the starting All Black lineup and playing for a good Super Rugby team,” he says.

His success hasn’t been without its challenges. He says the biggest is peer pressure, and the temptation to hang out with friends, but “I love rugby and I have to put my fitness first to succeed.”

He trains up to five times a week and says that possibly his greatest strength as a player is staying focused and never giving up.

“My biggest supporters are my parents and cousins, especially my mum,” Caleb says.

“She never misses any of my games. Family is extremely important to me. I couldn’t be where I am without their support.”

Previous Westlake Boys High School players who made the national schools team are Dean Kenny (1979), Stephen Bendall (1984), Luke McAllister (2001), Chris Smith (2004), Michael Harris (2006) and Ben Botica (2007).

This article originally appeared in the 22 January 2021 edition of the Rangitoto Observer.

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