Unitec student leads Under-20 Rugby World Cup Team

A student of the Unitec Institute of Technology is currently in South Africa, leading the New Zealand team at the Under 20 Rugby World Cup Tournament of the International Rugby Board.

Experts say that Jake Heenan, a Natural Sciences student could one day become a famous Rugby player like Richie McCaw.

Jake is Unitec’s latest sporting prodigy on the rise with his recent selection for the NZ under-20 rugby squad.

The open-side flanker was also named co-captain of the team – an honour he relishes and takes in his stride.

“I want to lead from the front, and keep things cool and calm. If I am not relaxed in my approach, it is hard to expect the boys to keep cool under pressure,” he said.

New Zealand has won this age-group World Cup for the past four consecutive years, so the pressure is on Jake and the team to make it five in a row.

“But the pressure makes it all the more exciting, and if we play to our abilities we should bring home the cup,” Jake said.

He is also studying for a Bachelor of Applied Science (Biodiversity Management) degree at Unitec. The Carlton Grammar Club premier team representative and Auckland Rugby Academy member is in his second year, studying part-time to accommodate his sporting commitments.

“I’m currently doing papers in behavioural ecology, and ecosystem. With my farming background, this area of study really appealed to me. My studies are a welcome retreat from city life in Auckland and the rugby commitments I have on my plate,” Jake said.

Training and conditioning takes up a large portion of any given week for Jake, with the support that he gets from his coaches, trainers and Unitec staff helping him meet all his commitments.

“My lecturer in the Natural Sciences Department, Graham Jones, has done so much to help me, including re-organising my deadlines and examination times when they clash with major representative games or squad training camps that I need to attend.

“That has given me real peace of mind, helping me to put my best efforts into my studies and the game,” he said.

Jake is a young man on a mission, with the drive to achieve his goals.

“I want to be the Richie McCaw of my generation. He is the best open-side flanker on the world rugby scene. He is truly inspirational,” Jake said.

The IRB under-20 Rugby World Cup tournament, which began on June 4, will conclude on June 24.

Unitec Institute of Technology is the Sponsor of the ‘Best Medium-Sized Business’ Category of the Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards 2012.

Photo : Jake Heenan

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