NZ call-up for CBHS stars

Max Hughes, Ben Lopas, Ollie Lewis and Jamie Hannah have been selected in the NZ Schools and...
Max Hughes, Ben Lopas, Ollie Lewis and Jamie Hannah have been selected in the NZ Schools and Barbarians side.
For the first time more than a decade Christchurch Boys High School have three students in the New Zealand Schools team.

Prop Ben Lopas, halfback Max Hughes and first-five Ollie Lewis were all named in the NZ Schools' squad last week. The last time three student from the school made the team was in 2006 when Nasi Manu, Ash

Dixon and Hugh Reed. Meanwhile, year 12 lock Jamie Hannah was named in the NZ Schools' Barbarians squad.

In 2005 a record five CBHS players made the NZ Schools' team in the form of Manu, Tim Bateman, Mason Pomare, Owen Franks and Colin Slade. However, between 2007 and 2018 just two players from the proud rugby school have made the team in Josh McKay (2015) and Louie Chapman (2018).

The phone calls from NZ Schools' coach Mark Hammett went out while Lewis, Hughes and Lopas were all playing a round of golf at Coringa Golf Club as part of their year 13 physical education programme.

"About four holes in I got my call... I had Ollie [Lewis] in my group of four so he was congratulating me, but then kind of shied away and spent a few holes on his phone waiting for his call," said Hughes.

"[When his phone rang] we started celebrating and were quite loud, but then he had to answer his phone so we had to stop for a second," said Hughes.

Lopas was unable to receive a phone call due to having a broken phone and didn't find out until returning home later in the day. However, he still had reason to celebrate on course by shooting a group best two-under par.

Hughes and Lewis have built a halfback and first-five combination together from their first year at CBHS and are now looking forward to the rare opportunity to continue their partnership with the national team.

"It's been a big goal. It's going to be pretty exciting to stand beside him and do the dream we've aspired for during our whole school career," said Hughes.

Almost 50 All Blacks have been produced by CBHS. It's something the boys are aware of something they believe helps to continue a legacy of players reaching their full potential.

"You always want to be better because you know so many All Blacks have been before you. You want to do the school proud, that means you train hard," said Lewis.

The CBHS contingent will be joined by four other students from Canterbury schools in the NZ Schools squad. St Andrew's College prop Jack Sexton - son of Matt Sexton - will be joined by lock Zach Gallagher and loose forward Dom Gardiner -son of Angus Gardiner - in the forwards. Meanwhile, utility back Wil Gualter has become the first student from Lincoln High School to make the team.

The NZ Schools and Schools’Barbarians teams travel assemble this weekend before a game of three halves match in Palmerston North on September 26. Both teams will then play games against Australia Under 18s and Fiji Schools.

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