Player gets call from two national sides

James Simpson-Te Pairi has made it into the national Maori rugby team and national touch team. Photo: Christine O'Connor
James Simpson-Te Pairi has made it into the national Maori rugby team and national touch team. Photo: Christine O'Connor
King's High School rugby player James Simpson-Te Pairi has made it to a national side in two sports but knows he will eventually have to chose one.

Simpson-Te Pairi (18) was selected in the New Zealand Maori under-18 rugby side to play a couple of games earlier this month.

The King's High School first XV second five-eighth was surprised to get into the side. In fact he did not even know the side existed.

''The first I knew about it was when I got contacted about it. But they had been watching me right throughout the season and seeing how I had played,'' he said.

He must have played well enough as the side had a few days in camp before taking on the New Zealand Barbarians schools team in Palmerston North. That was followed by a game against Tongan schools.

The team lost to the Barbarians team 28-24 in a close-run game before going out and beating Tongan schools 38-26.

Simpson-Te Pairi played in the first game but unfortunately sprained his ankle, tearing ligaments, late in the match. The injury forced him out of the second match.

The year 13 pupil, who has been in the first XV since year 10, said he was excited to be part of the squad and he had learnt a lot.

The team had only been around a couple of years and was a chance for aspiring players to get exposed to playing at the next level.

Simpson-Te Pairi was also a good touch player.

He had made the New Zealand under-17 boys team in 2015 and this year he was selected in the national under-18 mixed side, in which he was also captain.

The mixed team went to Australia for a three test series earlier this year but lost the series 3-0 to the Australians.

He said touch and rugby was sometimes hard to juggle.

''Touch is all about speed. It's quick. You're on the go, 24/7. Rugby is a bit more structured. You have a bit more of a rest,'' he said.

''But you have to have a bit of a balance. For rugby you have to be a bit bigger. But sometimes that means you might get a bit slower. I'll probably stick with touch for a couple of years and then give it away to concentrate on rugby.''

He has been selected in the Otago men's sevens squad, which is training over the summer, for tournaments. As for the future, he is undecided whether it will be study or getting into the work force.

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