Unitec student to lead under-20 RWC team
24 May 2012
Meet Jake Heenan - natural sciences student at Unitec, and the next Richie McCaw in the making.
Jake is Unitec’s latest sporting prodigy on the rise with his recent selection for the NZ under-20 rugby squad. The team heads to South Africa in a week's time to compete in the 2012 IRB under-20 Rugby World Cup tournament.
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’m not relaxed in my approach, it’s hard to expect the boys to keep cool under pressure,” says Jake.
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, 20, is also studying 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."
Training and conditioning takes up a large portion of any given week for Jake, so the support he gets from his coaches, trainers and Unitec staff alike helps him meet all his commitments.
“My lecturer in the natural sciences department, Graham Jones, has done so much to help me out – re-organising my deadlines and exam times when they clash with major representative games or squad training camps I need to attend.
“That’s given me real peace of mind, and helps me put my best efforts into both my rugby and my studies.”
It’s clear Jake is a young man on a mission, with tons of drive to achieve his ambitious life goals.
“I want to be the Richie McCaw of my generation. He’s the best open-side flanker on the world rugby scene, and a pretty inspirational guy all around.”
Jake joins the full squad for a training camp starting this Friday before departing for South Africa on Wednesday 30 May.
The IRB under-20 Rugby World Cup tournament takes place from 4 – 24 June.