I want to be a Mako, says college star


Fletcher Matthews is adamant; he wants to be a Mako.
He’s one of the most exciting rugby talents to come out of Waimea College, and instead of following in the footsteps of other secondary school players and heading out of town, Fletcher knows there is a pathway if he stays in Nelson.
“Ever since the Makos came together as a group I knew I wanted to play for them,” the school leaver says. “The fact Tasman rugby is getting so strong, they won the Championship this year, they’re just as good as anyone. But it’s my dream to play for them.”
He considered joining eventual Press Cup finalists Nelson College at the end of last year but decided against the move across town. He says there was more to school than just rugby, and his year at Waimea couldn’t have been better – he enjoyed the school environment, the teachers and “just everything there is real awesome”. Plus there was the added motivation from his mother Sue.
“She told me she didn’t know if she’d be able to come watch the Nelson versus Waimea game if I went to Nelson. Every year that’s the game we want to win, so it would’ve been pretty hard for her.”
Asked about the decision to stay, Fletcher says he has no regrets, and why should he? He ended up making 70 appearances for the Waimea first XV, a huge milestone that makes him the second most-capped player at the college. He made his debut in 2010 when he was just Year 10 and when there was just one Year 11 in the squad. He says his 50th cap was his highlight.
A regular at fullback or at centre for his school, it’s on the wing where Fletcher sees his long term future, and it was in that position he was selected in the New Zealand Schools Barbarian side, making him just the second Waimea student chosen in a national rugby squad.
While the New Zealand Schools team travelled to Australia for their annual trans-Tasman fixture, the Barbarians were just based in Auckland for a short camp and a game against a schools selection. Fletcher played the full 70 minutes on the wing, and says “he loved it”. “It was just good getting a taste of what the next step is going to be and it was a huge help in moving onto senior A level or higher stuff.”
And Fletcher’s next step will be with the Tasman Makos rugby sevens team, if he can get himself fit in time – an injury ruled him out of the South Island competition last month – and then will come his first taste of senior club rugby, having just declared his allegiance to Wanderers.
Fletcher has signed a two year junior development contract with the Tasman Rugby Union, and if he has a good season next year it can be bumped up.
“I’m staying here for the next two years at this stage. I’m going to study at NMIT. Having been in the academy for a few years and playing sevens for the, I’ve got a foot in the door.”
And with players like James Lowe reaching Super Rugby so soon after leaving school, Fletcher knows the opportunities are there.
“I’ve always looked up to him and people like Mitchell Scott and Liam Squire. It shows you don’t have to be in Auckland or Canterbury to make it to the next level.”