Every year, many rugby players from high schools all over Japan join the Keio University rugby team with the ambition to help the team to become the Japan’s No.1 team. In this series, we interview the coaches of the high schools which nurture such Keio players, asking them about the players in their high school days and how they have grown up over the years. In the third volume of this series, we went overseas to New Zealand, interviewed Mr. Kevin Putt, the head coach of King’s college. He is the distinguished coach who fostered Isaiah Mapusua, a key player in our team.
ーPlease tell us about his high school days and how he was coached back then.
Isaiah was a very good player at High School in King’s College as well as being a good young man too.
I coached him in both the 2nd XV and 1st XV while he was here.
He was so versatile in positions that in Year 11 (15 years of age) he played 6 / 8 / 12 as he was both a devastating runner and very strong defender. His best attribute was his ‘coachability’ and desire to learn. He grew as a rugby player and became a very disciplined and accurate blind-side loose forward that also was able to play lock for us because he was such a good lineout option. He was a significant member of our very successful 2018 team that narrowly lost the Auckland 1A final at Eden Park.
-What is the secret to his success?
He has always been a very aggressive player, the secret was to harness this around discipline and ensuring he kept his tackles low rather than too high…he has an excellent offload game and very good footwork that means he can find gaps where none exist.
ーWhat is your message to him?
Please wish Isaiah well from us…he was (and remains) a fine King’s man.
Mr. Kevin emphasized the following points: Harness this around discipline and ensuring he kept his tackles low rather than too high… which is exactly what KEIO’s Rugby team needed. Hence, Keio is the best team for him, and he also seems to be familiar with the team. Isaiah has become a crucial part of our team, using his well-built physique for line-outs and offloads, as well as his outstanding strategic vision. Rugby fans at King’s College are looking forward to seeing him on the field. His success at Keio will surely make other NZ high school rugby players want to join and play for Keio in Japan after seeing his action in the match.
（Writer: Kowloon Higashi）
Coverage cooperation about English: Akihiko Shimura, Keio Univ.