Brothers Zarn and Bailyn Sullivan will play together for the first time on Wednesday. photo/All Blacks Facebook
Wallace Sullivan admits Wednesday night in Hamilton will be emotional as sons Bailyn (23) and Zarn (21) Sullivan both make their Māori All Black debuts.
“She's gonna be an awesome moment on Wednesday. It'll be hard to hold the tears back.” the proud father told teaomaori.news.
Although they’re not the first set of brothers to play for the Māori All Blacks, they’re also not the first set to debut together – Rieko and Akira Ioane are the most recent to achieve that, against Samoa in 2015.
But what makes it remarkable for the Ngāti Kahungunu pair is they have never played together, apart from a couple of sevens tournaments for their home club, Napier Pirates.
In a video posted to the All Blacks Facebook page, Bailyn said it's a proud time for him and his brother.
“We’ve never played with each other on the field before, and to do it in a Māori All Blacks jersey is pretty special.”
Never played together
At different times, the pair both played for the Napier Boys High School First XV, before both ventured north to Kings College in Auckland.
Bailyn has played his NPC rugby with Waikato since finishing school, and after a few seasons with the Chiefs, he had a breakthrough season with the Hurricanes in this year's Super Rugby Pacific. Meanwhile, Zarn stayed in Auckland, wearing the blue and white hoops in the NPC, and playing a part in the Blues resurgence in Super Rugby.
That means they have often come up against each other on the field. Wallace is relieved he can finally watch side by side for once.
“My words of wisdom to them is 'just don't kill each other, you know, there's still blood there'. For them to play on this Māori team it's a real special one for me.”
While it will be the brothers' first time wearing the Māori All Blacks jersey, Zarn was the co-captain of the inaugural U20 Māori team who played Fiji in Rotorua.
“I haven’t represented my culture before. Zarn has done it with the Māori 20s a couple of years back, it’s special to me. To do it alongside this fellah is pretty cool,” Bailyn says.
Wallace says Bailyn has always been proud of his culture, and to wear the jersey with his younger brother for the first time is huge.
“I’m rapt for both of them, to be honest. Zarn knows what it’s like to put a Māori jersey on, Bailyn’s a different story. I’m sure the younger bro will him the ins and outs and what not to do and what to do. It’s good for the boys.”
Wallace says there will be a large contingent of whānau in the stands on Wednesday night in what is sure to be a special moment.