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Future looking bright for former Rathkeale player, Eschenbach

PHOTO/FILE

RUGBY

ELI HILL
[email protected]

The future is looking bright for a young Wairarapa rugby player fresh out of college.

Jack Eschenbach, 18, made a strong impression at the national sevens tournament in Tauranga last weekend, scoring four of Wairarapa Bush’s six tries.

He kicked four of his six conversion attempts and creditably marked All Blacks Sevens player Joe Ravouvou in the Bowl quarter-final against Auckland.

His performance caught the eyes of the selectors for the national sevens men’s development camp which is being held in January and there’s a strong possibility he’ll be asked to attend.

Eschenbach starts his Bachelor of Commerce studies at Canterbury University next year and says he will be aiming to make the Canterbury Under-19 side.

“That’d be the goal if everything went right, make the U-19s and then the All Blacks Under 20s and make that world cup. But there’s a long way to go before it happens.”

Sometimes, slippery Jack can’t avoid being tackled. PHOTO/FILE

Eschenbach’s rugby career began at the Ripper level after he learned how to side-step from watching YouTube videos.

“A lot of people know me for my step. I wasn’t very big, so I had to avoid tackles by doing that.”

After showing off his speed and killer step at a Ripper tournament in Year 8, his friends told him he should be playing rugby.

After convincing his parents to let him play, Eschenbach made his debut aged 11 playing for a Red Star youth team.

“By my third game, I had scored five tries and I thought, hey this is pretty good.”

Eschenbach played in the Wairarapa-Bush U-16s and U-18s and was picked for the Hurricanes U-17 development camp.

He had a strong career in the Rathkeale First XV, playing mostly first-five eighth and occasionally halfback, gaining school 53 caps in his three years.

At 1.7 metres tall and weighing 74kg, Eschenbach is usually one of the smaller players on the field, and his step has helped him out in several occasions.

“I was trying to avoid getting tackled because I was even smaller then – it’s saved me in a few occasions, there’s some big boys out there.”

Despite his size, Eschenbach said he managed to hold his own at the national sevens against top players such as Ravouvou.

“It’s a bit intimidating but once you get into it, you don’t worry about it. You just do what you have to do, it’s a pretty good opportunity to play against the best.

“I found it not too different. I’m used to the higher tempo because we’re in a higher division in first 15.”

Eschenbach said the sevens tournament was an awesome way to get his name in front of selectors.

“It’s an awesome opportunity to get up there and compete against Mitre 10 Cup teams and to actually know that I can compete at that level is pretty cool.”

Eschenbach said that if he got the opportunity, he’d play as a professional for the Hurricanes or the Crusaders.

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