In 2009, South African born Reg Goodes earned selection for the New Zealand Secondary Schools’ team from the Wellington College First XV. Goodes is now a member of the Hurricanes and Wellington Lions. Wellington College coach Greg Sharland joked that Goodes declaration of allegiance to the All Blacks earned him his residency.
In 2012, the Wellington College First XV boasts another highly promising South African but, thankfully, long-time New Zealand resident, Wesley Goosen.
Wesley, who moved to New Zealand when he was four and a half years old, is a Year 12 student in his second year in the First XV. A utility back last season, where he covered wing, midfield and fullback for the championship winning team, this year he is the starting second-five. How has Wesley adapted from being a utility to a key player in the backline? “It’s good to have more responsibility. I enjoy the challenge of calling some of the plays and being more of a leader.”
Wesley’s chief attributes are his quick footwork, vision and passing. His eye for the gap has seen him score several tries this season. However, Wesley is not the biggest man around, so how does he overcome his size disadvantage?
“I have put on 8kg this year and have been a member of the Wellington College rugby academy, which trains year round on Monday and Wednesday mornings.”
The academy is for conditioning only and, additionally, Wellington has compulsory team sessions on Tuesday and Thursday, making them one of the fittest school teams in the country.
An especially eye-catching feature of the Wellington game is the mobility; fitness and skills of its forward pack. Which begs the question, Wesley, why are your forwards playing like backs? “It’s great that our forwards can play like backs when it’s on. We feed off them and they give us confidence to have a go.” Wesley explains “Our game plan is built around keeping the ball alive. We like to play at pace, it’s just natural for a lot of us.”
Trusting his natural instincts is something that has earned Wesley selection for the Hurricanes Schools camp this year. Wesley says “It was a big step up from normal practice. Testing yourself against other good players was really great.” Wesley adds “It was exciting that Wellington Coach Chris Boyd was there too.”
Another coach who has had a major impact on Wesley is Greg Sharland. Wesley was coached by Mr Sharland in the Under 14A’s and is now playing under him in the First XV. Question, why do you relate so well to Mr Sharland? Says, Goosen without hesitation, “He knows the game well and has a laidback style.”
There is, however, nothing laid-back about Wesley’s pre-match ritual. Wesley explains that, before each game, he kisses the emblem on his Wellington College jersey. A thriving student in accounting, Wesley calculates he has never lost while doing this. It’s this sort of passion that makes Goosen a vital and popular member of his team.