Bradley Campbell. Photo/Emma Rodger, ECR Photography
The highlight of Bradley Campbell’s rugby career was attending a New Zealand Barbarians Hurricanes Age Grade Camp and it has given him a taste for a future in rugby.
The St. John’s College year 13, who is captain of the school’s first XV team, attended the camp held at Napier Boys’ High School late last year.
Sponsored by NZ Barbarians, the camp aimed to accelerate the growth of under-18 Hurricanes talent and provide opportunities for the players to promote themselves for selection into High Performance pathway programmes.
A group of more than 25 coaches and support staff, including the Hurricanes coaching team, facilitated sessions across NZ Rugby’s six pillars of High Performance: Technical & Tactical, Physical, Nutrition, Mental, Personal Leadership and Pathways, Culture & Values.
“It means heaps because I have been wanting to play rugby after school, so being able to be selected, especially a year early, means quite a lot. For people to recognize all the hard work that I have done over the last couple of years is pretty special.
“I was just happy to be there because I know there are a lot of people that would love to be in my position.”
Bradley says the game was faster and more physical than he has previously encountered.
“It was the next level and showed me where I need to be. I found out what I need to work on and what my strengths are at the next level so it’s just making sure I keep working.”
The experience has made him realise that he wants to be a professional rugby player, one that is not just a dream, but in his grasp.
“I just want to play rugby because that's just been my dream for as long as I can remember. That's every rugby kid's dream at seven years old, so I know that I'd love to play professional rugby.”
He is already part of the Hawke's Bay Rugby Union’s Senior Academy team, coached by the school’s head coach Matt Wyatt.
Their fixtures go a long way to determining who is selected for this year's Hurricanes Under-20 team.
But first, there is the final year of school and guiding the first XV to success.
“Last year was the best season we've had in a long time, and I reckon this year we'll be even better.”
The skills he learnt at the camp have filtered through to the first XV. “I found that I could bring a lot back into the team whether that was drills or just how they did things.”
Principal Robert Ferreira says Bradley is a “very determined young man” who trains hard and leads from the front.
“For him to have been selected as captain of the first fifteen in his year 12 year is a huge feather in his cap so obviously his potential was recognised last year,” Mr Ferreira said.
“He’s the perfect example of a leader because he motivates those around him to perform to their best.”