Scott Morris making a save for the Rathkeale College first XI. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

JAKE BELESKI

[email protected]

The bright lights of the United States will be awaiting two Rathkeale College football players next year after they were named in the New Zealand secondary schools under-19 football team.

First XI players Scott Morris Tom Wagner, both Year 12, have been named in the squad which will be coached by Rathkeale first XI coach, Steve Coleman.

The team will travel to America in April next year and play three matches against college opposition.

It is hoped they will also get to play the academy sides of two Major League Soccer clubs, the LA Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes.

Morris narrowly missed out on the New Zealand under-17 side that went to the World Cup in India this year, making his selection in the secondary schools team even more special.

“It was quite disappointing not going with the under-17s, so it’s good to have this one now,” he said.

“It’ll be great to see what the quality is like over there.”

Morris said a successful couple of years with Rathkeale had been crucial to progressing his football development.

“I only came early last year, so it’s my second season.

“For me it’s been huge for developing me as a player and getting confidence.”

A ninth-place finish at the national secondary schools tournament a few weeks ago had shown how far the team had come, he said.

“We went to the tournament not having any preconceived views because we didn’t really know where we stood.

“It was a wee bit surprising but felt pretty good.”

Wagner has been involved with the first XI for three years, and said it had been a goal to make the secondary schools team since they found out about it in June.

He said the coaching of Coleman had helped take his game to another level, and he was hoping that development would continue.

“The players Steve has brought up and the team development has helped to improve both of our games.

“We’re just taking it each step at a time, but I think both of us would like to go far in the sport.”

Coleman was announced as the coach of the side earlier this year, and said the success of the school’s first XI had benefitted both the players and himself.

“For me it’s a stepping stone, and a good opportunity to build on the good work the boys have done at school.

“They’ve reaped the benefits, but so have I at the end of the day because of their success as well.”

They had made an effort to pick players from right across the country, which hadn’t always happened in previous years.

All the players in the squad would be given plenty of chances to show what they could do, he said.

“The boys will get plenty of opportunity to impress.

“I think it’s a good opportunity to get some international experience.”