For a small school, New Plymouth's Francis Douglas Memorial College is starting to punch above its weight in rugby.
They beat traditional powerhouse New Plymouth Boys' High earlier this year, and on Saturday they could have two old boys running out at Yarrow Stadium for the All Blacks.
In a town where they're both heroes, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen's poised to deliver some good news. Conrad Smith may yet be at centre on Saturday, and though Dan Carter's sure to start, Beauden Barrett's a decent chance to be on the bench.
"It would be a dream come true," says Barrett. "Growing up here, watching Samoa and Ireland play against the All Blacks, it was pretty special. So if I get a chance to run out on the weekend it would be special."
It would be a special time for Francis Douglas Memorial College too.
"I know he was born and raised up here, but he's played most of his footy down at the Cake Tin, so I'll leave that as his home ground for now," says halfback Piri Weepu.
Barrett and Smith and both old boys are two of several All Blacks from the small Catholic school, though there are suggestion's Smith's no longer a local.
It still is home for Barrett, His dad, Kevin, played 167 games for Taranaki, and Barrett has strong memories of Saturday afternoons spent there as a child. There are not such found memories, though, of his All Blacks assistant coach, Ian Foster.
"Waikato took the shield of us in '96," says Barrett. "Fozzie was actually playing – still scarred from those cow bells."
The bells have been ringing for Rene Ranger to start, and he may, in a backline that could include at least three changes with more in the reserves.
Weepu came off the bench in Christchurch and admits it was a timely reminder of the pace of the test rugby.
"It was pretty quick," says Weepu. "It's fair to say I started chasing after Beaudie Barrett, but I don't think I got out of first gear."
Hooker Dane Coles didn't finish training today, but says his tight calf isn't an issue, while skipper Kieran Read took just a limited role because of his sore back.
And though the players have tomorrow off, the call of the sea might have to be resisted.
"It might be a bit too rough but we'll see what happens," says Barrett. "Shag asked us to rest up, so we've got to recharge the batteries."
A clean sweep of France beckons and the chance of a rare double for two Taranaki old boys.
source: newshub archive