The Tumut Bulls have landed the prize signature of New Zealand schoolboy rugby star, Connor Swann.
The 18-year-old, born and bred in New Zealand, already boasts a handy rugby resume, having played for Liston College before joining renowned rugby nursery, Kelston Boy’s High School.
Swann helped his school to a 1A title in 2021, with Kelston Boy’s going through Auckland’s premier schoolboy competition undefeated.
In a huge signing for the club, Swann explained how he was connected to the Bulls through coach and fellow New Zealander, Ray Wells.
“JR (Ray Wells) and my old man are actually good friends and he actually took me for a few coaching lessons when my old man was coaching back home,” Swann said.
“That’s how I knew him through rugby and when he came overseas to coach in Tumut, I think it was always in the back of his mind to get me over as soon as he could and that’s how I ended up here.”
Whilst he eventually landed with the Bulls, Swann was originally meant to be plying his trade in Japan.
“Australia wasn’t the first option,” Swann explained.
“I was originally supposed to go to Japan for university but that didn’t work out, so we hit up every contact we knew and my plan with my old man is to give rugby two years and see if I can make it.
“If I don’t crack something, then I head home and get a job, so I’m here to take any chance I can get.”
Tasting success with Kelston Boy’s High School is what kick-started Swann’s endeavour to make a name for himself in the sport of rugby.
“I played in every representative side for my age since 14s, which was 14s twice and 16s twice,” Swann said.
“I was originally at Liston College before I was given the opportunity to go to Kelston Boy’s High School and last year, we took out the 1A, which is really good and it got me thinking.
“A lot of the boys out of that team got contracts to Waikato, Hurricanes, and some to the (New Zealand) Warriors and (Redcliffe) Dolphins and it kind of pushed me along and I thought, ‘well, I played with these fellas, I don’t see why I can’t make it too’, and that’s why I came here.”
The big loose forward seven will offer a mixture of youthful exuberance and rugby nous to the Bulls forward pack and he is hoping to lead by example when it comes time to take the field.
“For me, I just want to be a fresh face and offer a bit of competition amongst the boys and spark up some player-led leadership,” Swann said.
“Hopefully we can help the Bulls to some good results.”
With Swann arriving late last week, the Bulls received a two-for-one deal, with his partner, Brooke Carruthers also joining the club.
Brooke will play for the Bullettes and while she never planned to come to Australia until only recently, the 19-year-old was willing to do what she could for the Red and Blacks.
“At first, I wasn’t coming here because I thought there was nothing here for me, but there is work and rugby and I thought I would come across,” Carruthers said.
“I’m just keen to give it a go and help the club out where I can.”
Bulls coach Ray Wells was over the moon to see Swann and Carruthers in Tumut, and he identified how his new signing would be utilised in 2022.
“I looked to bring him across because I could see that we had gaps in that loose forward trio,” Wells said.
“He is a loose forward seven and could play eight and get away with it. Importantly, he is a good lineout jumping seven and he will add a lot to our side.
“Plus, knowing him personally, I thought he would be a good fit for the team with his maturity and his values.”
Swann, Carruthers and the Tumut Bulls and Bullettes will continue to train hard ahead of the 2022 SIRU season, and Wells said he would still welcome players with all different backgrounds and rugby experience as the Red and Blacks prepare for a big season.