Two 15 year old students – Muhammad Nurhidayat and Miguel Erwin Besoro William, have been chosen to attend a training stint of a lifetime in New Zealand after attending last month’s ‘Heroes in the Making’ program organised by the Singapore Rugby Union and Rugby Singapore.
(Left to right) Nurhidayat and William with Singapore Rugby Union technical director Inoke Afeaki. Photo: Rugby Singapore
Under the program, outstanding local youth players undergo intensive training programs under rugby legends and world renowned coaches with the long term view of developing them into future Singapore national players. A fortnight back, former Rugby World Cup Sevens winning captain Karl Te Nana of New Zealand spent two days in Singapore with the latest cohort of promising young players taking them through gruelling drills and tactical set-pieces.
Nurhidayat and William, will be heading to New Zealand next June where they will be based in Wellington, home of Super Rugby side Hurriances, which has produced 30 All Blacks including the legendary Jonah Lomu. Besides a chance to experience world class coaching at the Wellington academy, the Singaporean boys will also participate in competitive matches against top New Zealand youth sides and witness the All Blacks training behind closed doors.
“I’m really excited about my first trip to New Zealand,” said Muhammad Nurhidayat, who plays stand-off for Damai Secondary. “I hope to watch the All Blacks over there and learn new skills to become a better player to share with my mates when I return. It will be an experience playing against New Zealand youths as I’m sure they will be very strong and fast as well.”
Added William, who plays in the full-back position for St. Andrew’s Secondary: “I am grateful to be selected for the New Zealand stint, as this will allow me to develop myself further and it wouldn't have been possible without the support of my coaches, teachers, teammates and family. I would like to experience how the Kiwis train and play under pressure and strive to become a better player.”
The teenage duo enjoyed the recent ‘Heroes in the Making’ program and cherished the time spent with Sevens legend Te Nana who won the 2001 Rugby World Cup Sevens and the 2002 Commonwealth Games gold in a glittering career playing along side legends like Lomu and Eric Rush.
Nurhidayat and William shares a common dream to play in SG7S one day. Photo: Rugby Singapore
“Coach Te Nana is a big name in 7s rugby but he is also a great motivator and very approachable. He even accepted my challenge as a crossbar challenge (which he lost),” recounted Nurhidayat. ‘Though it was very tiring, he still managed to make each session fun and exciting. I picked up a few skills that will be useful for 7s like, for instance, how to deliver the ball quickly once you get it. One important lesson Te Nana taught me was not to exaggerate any pain felt during the game. He said if you feel pain, just shake it off and continue to play.”
“Karl Te Nana was a great coach and he told us that every player on the team has to assume leadership,” shared William who has played rugby for nine years. “The Heroes in the Making program allowed me to train and play with players from other schools. Overall, the training was tough and it was done with high intensity. One thing I learnt from Karl Te Nana was, whenever I am tired during training, think of representing Singapore and wearing the national jersey to motivate myself to push on.”
During his visit to Singapore, Kiwi 7s legend Te Nana expressed the view that Singapore should aim to qualify for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and to play in the HSBC Singapore Sevens one day. This goal had clearly struck a chord with aspiring players like Nurhidayat and William.
“My ambition is to be able to experience playing pro rugby in other countries,” said Nurhidayat who admires players like All Blacks Gillies Kaka, William Ryder, Daniel Carter. “But the most important goal right now is to play for Singapore in SEA Games and the Asian or World Rugby series.”
Added William, who admires All Black Shaun Johnson: “My ambition in rugby is to represent Singapore in both 7s and 15s. To represent Singapore in the Olympics and to play in the World Sevens Series will be a dream come true.”
The Heroes in the Making program is a key ancillary activity of the 2017 HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens that will be held at the National Stadium on 15 & 16 April next year.
“The program provides our youth talent with tangible reward for their dedication, time and effort,” said Inoke Afaeki, Singapore Rugby Union’s technical director. “As Karl Te Nana has said, the talent and skills of some of our local players are world-class and we should aim to gain entry into the World Sevens Series. I have no doubt in my mind that this is possible but it requires careful attention to make sure our best players make gains every year. It is vitally important that we identify and nurture these players over their competitive sporting years to make it a reality.”
Tickets to the 2017 HSBC Singapore Sevens are currently on sale at 20 per cent off its regular price which starts 1 Jan 2017. Two-day passes for Category One (free seating) are just SGD 120, while family packages (2 adults 2 children under 18 years old) are only SGD 260. All prices include GST and exclude booking fees. So if you are looking for a great Christmas gift for your friends, family, colleagues, buy them tickets to watch next year’s HSBC Singapore Sevens. Visit www.singapore7s.sg for more ticketing options and VIP hospitality packages.