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Hawkes Bay Today article 2016

There will come a day when Hawke’s Bay youngster Zack Swanwick has to choose between his two favourite codes of rugby and golf.

The Taradale Primary School Year 6 10-year-old is already prepared.

“Golf will be the priority because I want to be a professional. Rugby will be a good back-up because you can earn a living out of that, too,” Swanwick said.

“I haven’t thought about a career outside of those two sports. I will live the dream first and worry about that after the body falls apart.”

The Napier Old Boys Marist 10th grade No8 has been a busy lad in both codes in recent weeks. He has also had to get some repairs on the body.

Three weeks ago Swanwick, a son of former Black Sox softball pitcher Vincent Swanwick, helped his school rugby team win the rugby section of the Spooner Shield tournament with an unbeaten run.

Taradale Primary also won the shield which is the symbol of winter sports supremacy for schools within the Taradale district.

“It was good to win the rugby section this year because last year we were second,” Swanwick recalled.

That was on the Friday. The following day he helped his club rugby team, which is coached by his father and Bevan Condon and finished the season with just two losses, beat Taradale Avengers in a close game before going out to his Napier Golf Club to play 18 holes as the 10 handicapper wasn’t happy with his swing.

“A week earlier I was having swing troubles and I could hardly hit the ball. After a lesson with golf pro Andrew Henare and practice sessions after school until dark, rain or shine, things started to slowly come around,” Swanwick said.

On the Sunday of that weekend he had junior lessons at the Napier club before rushing off for Napier West C grade rugby trials. With this schedule combined with his swing issues it wasn’t a surprise his body started to tighten up.

“Garry did the repairs. He was hard but it only took one session and things were back to normal,” Swanwick said referring to former All Blacks and Hawke’s Bay Magpies rugby team physio Garry Sye.

When the gastro crisis forced the cancellation of all junior rugby in the Bay two weekends ago Swanwick tackled his first Kapi Tareha golf tournament which is hosted annually by his club. He shot two rounds of 78 on the Saturday and an 81 on the Sunday to win the men’s net stablefords title by four shots with a total of six under his handicap.

His total gross score of 237 was the best recorded by a Napier junior.

“Those rounds of 78 were hit off the blue tees. My best round of 77 at the club was in the summer and hit off the white tees,” Swanwick, who is in his sixth year of golf, said.

“Next year I will attempt to retain both titles even if it means I have to miss rugby. I never took a Saturday off rugby for golf this year because our rugby team only had one reserve,” he said.

On the Monday after the Kapi Tareha tournament, Swanwick was told he had made the cut for the Napier West team which is coached by Justin Ross.

Last weekend he had his final club rugby game of the season on the Saturday and on Sunday he won the Best Forward award for his team at the club’s prizegiving.

This week there is a mixture of rep rugby trainings and golf training sessions after school and this weekend Swanwick is looking forward to some club golf.

His father got down to a five handicap before a foot injury halted his progress almost 12 months ago. Before the injury his son had already beaten him on one occasion.

“I don’t think I’ll beat him again when I get back to normal … he’s doing so well,” Vincent Swanwick said.

“I probably won’t even try. I’m just enjoying being his caddy and taxi these days,” he said.

His son, who plays softball in the summer for Taradale, displayed the right attributes of a professional in waiting when he heard his father make those comments.

There were no smart comments about who was the best player in the household.

“I wouldn’t have got this far without Dad’s and Andrew’s input,” Swanwick said before it was time to head off to rep rugby training.

It’s obvious the lessons he learnt when caddying for Kiwi professional Mark Brown at the Sky City One-Day Pro-Am in Cambridge are paying off.