17-year-old Blake Makiri has been one of 96 young athletes being put through their paces this week at the Ignite7s.
"Not going to lie, it's pretty intense. Found it hard this morning getting up, just from the intense trainings that we've had, and to still come out and do more training in the afternoon with the boys, after hard testing day it's been pretty ruthless, but it's all enjoyment, enjoying every bit of it."
The Sacred Heart Collge student is part of the Inferno team, one of four squads assembled in the hope of revealing the hidden talent across the country. Up for grabs are six development contracts, but with one more year left of school, the Year 12 Makiri is looking to learn as much as he can this week to help his own game, "I'd like to say making that NZ MVP spot, but I know it's not my time yet. It's just learning for me and bettering myself to become a better player and better person for the years to come," Makiri says.
Makiri, posted the best 60kg bench press result generating a peak velocity of 1.74 metres per second. Ellery Wilson, Makiri's coach for this week is looking forward to seeing what Makiri can do on the field during tomorrow’s one-day tournament, "His skills testing and his athleticism, he's up there with the best of them. Now it's for him to come out of his own and start owning those skills and saying I'm one of the best here," Wilson says.
While Makiri himself admits he might do a few years ahead of his time, Wilson says the national coaches Clark Laidlaw (All Black Sevens) and Alan Bunting (Black Ferns Sevens) are also looking towards the next Olympic cycle, "These kids that are sixteen, they're going to be twenty. So they're looking at their growth that they could do so, I think they've all got an opportunity to pick up a development contract somewhere, if not next year, the year after that."
Blake Makiri comes from good rugby stock. His father, Hare is a former Māori All Black, and played 28 tests for Japan, including 4 Rugby World Cup appearances in 2007. Hare Makiri still lives where he coaches Rugby 7's.
"I'd like to say he has the wheels like me, but unfortunately I got it from my mother," Blake laughs, "but, I think I got the height from him. He's always helping in the rucks and that, tackling which helps.
"He just gives me a bit of criticism - positive, here and there. But he usually lets me go about my sevens and rugby by myself."
Having being put through 3 days of testing, and intense training, Blake Makiri gets his chance to show his on-field abilities tomorrow at Trusts Stadium, Auckland.