Rugby Sevens: All Blacks Sevens coach discovered rookie Jayden Keelan while playing club rugby together

A rare appearance in club rugby by All Blacks Sevens coach Tomasi Cama may have just unearthed the sport's next star.  

Cama was on the bench for Manawatu side College Old Boys, when the performance of Jayden Keelan, one of his teammates, caught his eye.  

Fast forward a few months and Keelan has just been handed a full-time All Blacks Sevens contract.  

The 21-year-old says he never could have imagined playing international sevens.   

"I did not think it was gonna happen aye, I was trying in fifteens to go hard, and then got offered the opportunity of a lifetime."   

Keelen admits that opportunity may not have come if it wasn't for Cama saying yes to filling in for Manawatu club side College Old Boys off the bench.  

"He's kind of a legend around our club and around Palmy and he turned up and I was like 'woah this fella', he jumped on the paddock and I was like 'yeah, he's still got it'," Keelan laughed.   

Cama said Keelen is just one example of the untapped talent that can be found in club rugby.   

"I think that's the beauty of it, you've just got to get out there, because these talented kids are out there and they just wanna play footy, they're not necessarily in the system," he said.

"I saw some of the stuff [Keelan] was doing on the field... I asked him to come and join our development team to play Tonga and he came and played and just really stood out."  

Jayden Keelan of Palmerston North Boys High School makes a break.
Jayden Keelan of Palmerston North Boys High School makes a break. Photo credit: Getty Images

Keelan initially had plans to return to club rugby in Spain where he'd spent the previous season, however Cama's call came in just the nick of time.  

"I had a ticket booked, a contract sorted to go back and then three days before my flight I got a call from Tomasi and they said they wanted to offer me a contract."  

And Cama wants Keelan's call-up to serve as an example to other players around the country.  

"Those guys that are playing club rugby and playing heartland rugby out there, the door is open."  

Because you never know where a decent game of club rugby may lead.