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Hurricanes' loosie from Feilding named the best U20 player

By Adam Julian
(Source/Sky Sport NZ)

Mosese Bason won the DJ Graham Medal as the best player in the Super Rugby Under 20 tournament in Taupo.


The strapping loose forward was outstanding for the Hurricanes in their third-placed finish.

On the opening day, Bason scored two tries in a 67-32 victory over Fijian Dura.

Bason played the entirety of a narrow semifinal loss to the Chiefs on Wednesday and ensured the Hurricanes responded strongly to the disappointment of missing the final with a powerhouse 50 minutes in the consolation 24-19 win over the Blues.

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The Crusaders won the tournament defeating the Chiefs 31-17 in the final. The Hurricanes weren’t interested in hanging around to watch that so jumped into vans to go home. Heading south, Bason was intercepted by tournament officials.

“They told me I’d been nominated for an award. I didn’t even know there was an award,” Bason told RugbyPass.

“When they called my name I was blown away. All the credit goes to my family, management, and the boys

“I drove home with forwards coach Eugene Smith. I did have a couple of cold ones to celebrate afterward but it’s back to reality on Monday. I have class in the morning.”


Bason studies Design Innovation at Victoria University in Wellington. He is inspired by his grandfather John who was an architect.

One of eight siblings, Bason was born in Tonga. He arrived in New Zealand when he was two. His family settled on a lifestyle block in Marton (Manawat?) where his father Stephen and mother Eseta farm for a living.

Former All Blacks fullback and 2011 Rugby World Cup winner Israel Dagg (66 Tests, 26 tries, 60 wins) was born in Marton.

Bason was playing Under 8 rugby when he was three. His brother Vernon Bason was starting hooker for the Hurricanes 20s. His sister Taufa Bason has played in the Farah Palmer Cup for Manawat?.


Feilding High School, 20 km north of Palmerston North, has become something of a rugby nursery. In the 2023 Rugby World Cup final there were three All Blacks from Feilding, Codie Taylor, Sam Whitelock, and Aaron Smith.

Georgia Ponsonby, Sarah Hirini, Amy Cokayne (England), and Carys Dallinger (Australia) are all female internationals out of Feilding.

Bason was in the boys’ First XV from 2021 to 2023. He played 50 out of a possible 54 games as Feilding twice won the Taine Randall Cup as Central North Island competition winner. Bason changed from an outside back to a loose forward. He scored 14 tries for a side that won 35 games in three seasons.

“Feilding is the home of people who don’t stop working. The work ethic of the people there is unreal. People are pretty grounded and that’s why I think we’ve had heaps of good players,” Bason said.

“Winning our First XV competition was huge for the boys. A lot of work and travel goes in. The coaches really helped us.”

Feilding coach Justin Lock played 41 games for Whanganui and won the Meads Cup three times. Trainer Geoff Pound has worked with City Fitness for eight years and advises Manawat? Rugby.

Bason was picked for the New Zealand Secondary Schools and scored two tries in the 57-22 rout of the New Zealand Barbarians in Hamilton.

On an Australian tour, the visitors swept the hosts 2-0 achieving their largest margin of victory against Australia since 1995 in the first Test (34-3). In the second Test, New Zealand scored half-a-century (55-36) for the first time in 39 meetings against Australia stretching back to 1978.

“That tour was a real eye-opener on what it takes to get to the next level. Preparation, nutrition, and building strong combinations with the boys. There’s a lot of things that go on that you don’t think about at school,” Bason said.

Bason took those lessons with him to Taup?. He was relentlessly damaging in all three appearances for the Hurricanes reserving his best performance for the semi-final against the Chiefs.

“That was a special one because the Cory Jane, Richard Kahui cup was on the line.

“They’re two All Blacks who are legends for the Hurricanes and Chiefs. I wanted to have a big one. It was a close game but unfortunately, they pipped us at the end.”

The Hurricanes led 26-19 with three minutes remaining and possession deep inside the Chiefs half. Chiefs openside Oli Mathis (2023 New Zealand Schools captain) snaffled a turnover and charged into Hurricanes territory. The Chiefs built pressure and Brooke Mitchell scored in the corner. A sideline conversion from Fletcher Carpenter tied the scores.

Energised the Chiefs pounded away at the Hurricanes causing the referee to lose patience. In the fifth minute of additional time, Mitchell crashed over beside the posts to win the game. Mitchell was captain of the Rotorua Boys’ High School First XV in 2022 that won the Super 8 title for the first time since 2001.

Teams were permitted to use a dozen substitutes which saw drastic momentum shifts in some matches. Against the Hurricanes, the Chiefs managed to stabilise a malfunctioning lineout and add zest with calculated substitutions.

“The subs thing didn’t make a difference for the players. We were focussed on doing our jobs but for the coaches, they had more to think about with combinations and timings,” Bason said.

“It was a tough tournament. You hear all these names, but to compete with and against them is special. The margins are very tight.”

The Hurricanes defeated the Blues 24-19 in the consolation playoff. Converted tries for Will Cole, Jai Tamati, and Vernon Bason propelled the Hurricanes to a handy 21-5 advantage. The Hurricanes nearly wilted in the second half. The Blues shut the gap to 21-19 before Sam Coles kicked a crucial penalty in the 76th minute.

The Blues weren’t done. Brute centre Xavi Taele, who scored an earlier try, busted clear only to be bravely ankle-tapped by Liam O’Connor. At the ruck, Salesa Seumanufagi and Oscar Ritchie poached an inspirational turnover to terminate time.

“Big ups to Salesa and Oscar winning that turnover. The Blues were a good team, very physical,” Bason observed.

Bason is affiliated with the College Old Boys Club in Palmerston North. He will be a strong contender to represent New Zealand at the World Under 20 championship in South Africa in June and July. Every winner of the DJ Graham Medal has gone on to play senior Super Rugby with Luke Jacobson and Fletcher Newell becoming All Blacks.

An organised and efficient Crusaders outfit (they mauled a lot) won the title defeating the Highlanders (40-24), Blues (26-22), and Chiefs (31-17).

Loose forward Johnny Lee out of Christ’s College and Lincoln Club was a fine skipper. Hooker Manumaua Letiu and prop Gus Brown look like good prospects. In the backs, Ben O’Donovan (halfback) was a real standout and Cooper Roberts and Isaac Hutchinson look like solid players who can cover multiple positions.

*Josiah Maraku played 100 games for the Feidling First XV. After 25 appearances for Manawat?, he headed for France where he presently plays for  Lyon in the Top 14.

Super Rugby Under 20 Winners

2021: Chiefs

2022: New Zealand Barbarians

2023: Blues

2024: Crusaders

 DJ Graham Award Winners


2014: Mitch Karpik (Auckland)

2015: Charlie Gamble (Canterbury)

2016: Luke Jacobson (Waikato)

2017: Sione Havili (Auckland)

2018: Kaleb Trask (Bay of Plenty)

2019: Fletcher Newell (Canterbury)

2020: Not Awarded due to Covid

2021: Sean Withy (Highlanders)

2022: Tahlor Cahill (New Zealand Barbarians)

2023: Harry Godfrey  (Hurricanes)

2024: Mosese Bason (Hurricanes)


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Red and White Dynamight 81 days ago

‘poached’ at aged 2. The talent scouts are elite.

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