College star back after unlucky break

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Steve Soper hoped 2012 would be the year he got his lucky break. However, it was an unlucky break that nearly ended it all together.

The Richmond flanker has been an integral part of the Nelson College first XV since making the switch from Waimea College a couple of years ago. In his final Press Cup season, Steve was hoping to force his way into the New Zealand Secondary Schools squad, following training camps with the New Zealand Under-17 last year and a role with the South Island Secondary Schools team in 2011.

But his 2012 campaign hit a massive hurdle when he broke his tibia and fibula during a Tasman Makos rugby sevens trial in January. “I got jumped on from behind and fell over. It was just an awkward angle. There was just a big bang and it was sticking out to the side,” he explains on the nasty injury. “I knew this was going to be a big year. I guess now it’s not the same goals I had but it’s more about just playing. Anything else would be a bonus.” Steve managed 30 minutes in the first Section 1 game against Roncalli College, a week prior to the school holidays, and was happy with his performance. “It was good. It’s been a long wait. It’s not 100 per cent but I can play okay with it.”

The Section 1 of the Press Cup features the top eight teams, with Nelson College sitting in third behind leaders Christchurch Boys’ High School and St Bede’s College.

Steve has returned at the right time of the year, but says the league is more competitive this year and that Nelson will have to fight hard for a final spot. “Those schools that haven’t really stood out before are doing pretty well like obviously Roncalli, Marlborough [Boys College] is having a good year. There’s a good standard this year. It would’ve been good to play some easier teams to test the leg out but it is how it is.”

He still has a slight limp so is unable to fully utilise his speed. Having spent his first season in the Press Cup on the wing for Waimea College, his speed around the field is one of his most dangerous assets.

With representative trials being held last weekend, Steve was hopeful he could continue his season after the Press Cup, whether or not he will have a chance to wear a black jersey remains to be seen. “The next section of the [New Zealand secondary] schools camp gets named soon so I’ll see whether I get named or not.”

Steve has not committed to a senior club for the Car Company division one competition next year, but wants to push a spot in the Tasman Makos in years to come. “I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing, training hard and doing all of the right things.”