Former All Black Jerome Kaino has come out in support for his former school following heated debate surrounding player poaching in schoolboy rugby.
Kaino transferred from Papakura High School to Saint Kentigern College in the early 2000s after receiving a rugby scholarship and said the school provided young men with a chance to maximise their potential.
“People like myself, John Afoa, Joe Rokocoko (and you will know others) would possibly never have achieved what we have without the opportunity presented by St Kentigern College, and that’s the same for many other young men given by other schools along the way,” Kaino wrote on Instagram.
“If the rules of today don’t fit then surely sit around a table and work them out to retain the integrity of the competition.”
It was revealed earlier in the week that ten Auckland schools – and now several others from around the country – will refuse to play against St Kentigern in protest of the school’s player recruitment practices.
Kaino is not the only high-profile player to weigh in on the controversy, with All Blacks wing Rieko Ioane, who played for Auckland Grammar, also backing the under-fire school.
“I’ve seen it all now, just because they recruit doesn’t mean you pull the plug,” Ioane wrote on Instagram.
“Don’t run from the competition, if you wanna be the best, you beat the best. St Kents make first XV competition harder, but it makes it better when you beat them.”
Up to five players from rival schools were recruited to play for St Kentigern next year.
‘They’re not building from the ground up, from year nine to 11. They’re going after the superstars and it’s brazen,” Napier Boys principal Matthew Bertram told the New Zealand Herald, after their halfback joined the school for next year.
After attempts to formalise some standard guidelines failed, including limiting teams to playing just two regional players who have played 1st XV rugby before, schools began to formally advised St Kentigern they would not be playing them.
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