It’s been a “pretty awesome” couple of weeks for Fletcher Newell.
The 19-year-old prop who has recently signed a three contract with Canterbury Rugby, was part of the Canterbury Under 19s team which won the Jock Hobbs Memorial Trophy in Taupo this month. Canterbury became the first union to win the cup twice after beating Auckland 26-17.
Newell was also named player of the tournament.
“It was a great team to have been a part of. There was good buy in from everyone from the start and then to win it was awesome.”
For the former Rangiora High School student, it was also a chance for him to play again with fellow 1st XV team mates George Prain and Angus Fletcher.
“It was really good to be able to play with them again. You play a lot of rugby together at school and I guess when that comes to an end you never know if you’ll get to play together again so it’s great to have had that opportunity.”
For Newell, his 2019 season has been so successful that the win against Auckland and claiming the coveted Jock Hobbs trophy isn’t his number one highlight.
“It would have to be representing New Zealand, pulling on the jersey for the first time against Georgia.”
That game was for New Zealand at the World Rugby Under 20 Championship in Argentina in June.
“It was pretty special to be there and having so many supporters including my Dad. It was such a step up from any other tournament I’ve been involved in and I think it was a good experience just to see how a world cup all comes together.”
Following his selection in the NZ U20s, Newell also became a member of the Crusaders Academy at Rugby Park – something he said has helped a lot in his development.
“It’s so much more than just the rugby side of things. John Quinn has been awesome covering off the mental aspects of the game and he’s always available to talk with us about anything at all. There’s also help with time management, financial planning, counselling and any sort of support that people might need.”
While tight head props tend to get better with time, Newell said even at his tender age he’s picked up a lot of valuable advice that has taken his game to the next level.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have had a lot of good coaches over the years and now with specialist coaches it’s helped me a lot more as well. With the under 20’s having Derren Witcombe and in Canterbury Simon Kneebone, I’ve learnt a lot more around scrummaging.
“There’s also the strength and conditioning training which has been really good.
“Being a prop is quite a physically demanding position, but it’s also a position where you are able to have quite a long career. You look at someone like Wyatt Crockett who played more than 200 first class games – that’s a lot of seasons.”
A player that Newell most admires is another Canterbury and All Black prop, Owen Franks.
“He manages himself really well and everything he does is with purpose. I think we both have a quite a similar style of play – he’s just the complete professional.”
While Newell said his ultimate goal is to be a professional rugby player, he also acknowledges the importance of having something to fall back on.
He’s currently studying toward a Land and Property Management Degree at Lincoln University where he is majoring in property evaluation and project management.
There’s another four weeks left of the season with the Crusaders Academy and then there will be a slight break over summer, just enough to recharge the batteries.
“I’ll hopefully get away, go camping and do some fishing with Dad and just get out of the rugby space for a bit.”
Newell is eligible for under 20s again next year. The squad will get together in December and again for a training camp in March before the tournament in Italy.
“Id love to have another crack at under 20s and be a part of that environment again. Getting to travel to so many cool places, playing really good rugby and getting to do it with good mates is the best part.”
Words: Kim Nutbrown