Josh Southall was awarded the most valuable player award by the St Patrick’s College, Silverstream First XV last year. The openside flanker didn’t play a single game.
It’s 23 April and Silverstream are concluding a training session with a light-hearted game of touch when Southall takes a tumble. “I went to side step an opponent, but fell to the ground in pain. My knee was gone,” Southall rues.
Southall was side-lined for the season with a torn ACL and a damaged meniscus. It was a shattering blow for Southall, a member of the New Zealand Secondary Schools’ team who completed an unbeaten tour of Australia in 2017.
“The hardest part about being injured was filling up the water bottles and watching every single training and game knowing I could of helped when things were tough. All I could do was lead through speech,” Southall reflects.
Silverstream still enjoyed a successful season retaining their Premiership title and completing a clean sweep of their annual traditional fixtures. Further education was gained by Southall.
“Being injured allowed me to see the game from different perspectives and gain a greater understanding of breakdowns and how to construct a defensive system,” Southall observes.
“The easiest part of being injured was having the best support and backing from the Wellington system and my parents. It’s now my turn to give back.”
In 2016, Southall was a member of the Hurricanes Under-16 Development squad. His ability to give was best illustrated in 2017, when promoted to the Hurricanes Under-18 team for the match against the Crusaders at the Westpac Stadium. Southall played a blinder and scored two tries in a performance that promoted him to national attention.
Further acclaim was achieved in the Silverstream First XV. In 18 games Silverstream crossed the chalk 157 times while recording 17 wins in a ground breaking season.
“The boys had been together for a while and I think that experienced counted. In 2016 we were winning pretty much every game at halftime, but couldn’t finish the job,” Southall recalls.
Unfortunately, injury has been a regular theme for Southall. In 2015 there were three setbacks.
“Early in the season I took a hit on my shoulder and was out for four weeks. Later I returned for the Rongotai traditional and their big centre Denny To’o stepped on my ankle, so that was another four weeks. At the Hurricanes Under-16 tournament I got concussion. It was pretty frustrating,” he mourns.
The character to bounce back from adversity is unquestioned and Southall will shortly return for the Upper Hutt Rams, optimistic about their prospects for the season.
“We’ve got a lot of potential with new coaches and new players. We’ve just got to keep building good combos with all the players. It will take time, but I’m confident we’ll do well,” Southall warns.
In 2017 Southall was named Silverstream’s Forward of the Year, an award that somehow eluded All Black Asafo Aumua. Southall has competed in Waka Ama.
His father Todd is a police office and mother Tracy works in kitchen design. Josh’s younger brother, Mitch Southall was a member of the Hurricanes Under-16’s last year and is also a flanker.
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