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Hawkins Medal Player of the Week - Rookie Stars in Opening Weekend
Alex Nankivell on Saturday underlined the old sporting adage that if you are good enough to play, you are old enough to play.
The Lincoln University midfielder was the standout player in the Canterbury Metro Rugby Division One opening round, collecting a maximum three points in the race Hawkins Medal for the season’s most valuable player.
When the teenager joined Lincoln University over the summer from Christchurch Boys High School, co-coach John Haggart had planned to introduce Nankivell through the Colts system. “But he showed the goods at training and on Saturday he demonstrated that he can handle this level,’’ said Haggart.
The barnstorming runs from the second-five eights set up the opening try and played a big part in Lincoln University’s commanding 72-0 win over Belfast.
The 18-year-old bursted through tackles in the midfield to create space for his team-mates, most notably flanker Mitchell Dunshea and wing Tom Turner who both bagged a hat-trick.
Nankivell is a Christchurch club junior product but accepted a scholarship at Lincoln University where he joined older brother Hugo in the rugby squad.
Haggart said Nankivell made a great start on Saturday, but as many players who have dominated school rugby, the second-five will have to fine-tune his decision making between passing, busting a tackle and using the space around him.
Nankivell on Saturday also experienced that tougher side of senior rugby when he was lifted in a tackle and driven into the ground head first. Even though he had to leave the field and opponent Ben Ranubu was red-carded, Haggart felt the tackle was not intentional, “even thought it looked pretty ugly”.
Haggart expected the former New Zealand Secondary Schools Barbarians player to be cleared to play next week.
Just in case Canterbury coach Scott Robertson may come looking, he has already been beaten to the punch by Tasman who have signed Nankivell for the ITM Cup.
The other players to collect maximum three points for the Hawkins Medal this weekend where Scott Kelly from Sydenham, New Brighton’s Stefan Moir, Ross Kennedy from Marist Albion, Pita Anae-Ah Sue of Linwood and University’s Sam Godwin.
Canterbury Rugby observers award three, two and one points respectively to the three most outstanding players in each game. The player with the most points at the end of the season will be awarded the Hawkins Medal.
Photo - Ken Baker Photography
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