If the shoe doesn’t fit: young rugby player in tight spot

The only thing holding 14-year-old Taieri College pupil Shilo Hogg back on the rugby field is his...
The only thing holding 14-year-old Taieri College pupil Shilo Hogg back on the rugby field is his too-tight boots. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
A young Dunedin rugby player is unable to put his feet up as the hunt to find big enough boots goes international.

Shilo Hogg and his family have searched as far as Texas to find footwear that fits his size 17-18 feet, but with no luck so far.

Instead the 14-year-old Taieri College under-15 rugby player forces his feet into a comparatively diminutive size 16 boot before taking to the field.

He squeezed into them, but they were "a bit tight", Shilo said.

Despite this, the season was going well and like most young players, he hoped to go professional one day, he said.

He played as a prop and his initial goal was the First XV.

He had loved the sport ever since be began playing it at age 5, and was happy to be back after taking three years off due to a knee injury.

However his feet, once averagely large, had undergone a growth spurt in the past couple of years as he shot up to his current height of 1.9m.

Even the Highlanders do not have a player with feet to match Shilo’s.

While there is some tall timber in the squad — both Fabian Holland and Pari Pari Parkinson are listed at 2.04m — the biggest boots in the team were size "15 or 16", a spokesman said.

Shilo’s mother Nikki Hogg said local shops had been unable to help — Smiths Sports Shoes had been very helpful ordering in special school shoes and size 18 basketball shoes, but rugby boots remained elusive.

She had spent hours scouring the internet, but nothing went higher than a size 16.

"Today I was searching UK [sites] as well. We’ve searched pretty much every site that we can find.

"My brother’s been looking, my husband’s been looking ... his coach has asked all the senior players down at the club."

She had even got a family member in Texas to look there, but again without success.

"All I want is my boy to be able to enjoy the sport he loves."

Taieri College head of sport Blake Prince said Shilo was a "big, friendly giant".

Between the past injuries and the too-small boots, his dedication to the game showed great strength of character, Mr Prince said.

He was a great player, and was regaining his match fitness.

"This is the only thing that’s holding him back."