As Jacob Norris grew up up watching the Steamers, it was always a dream of his to play for the team.
Now his dream has become reality – at age 23 – with the Bay of Plenty boy returning home to play for his home province on the exact ground where he grew up playing.
His recent signing with the Steamers adds another impressive accomplishment to his resume. But this one has a personal touch for the 105kg openside flanker, who returns to the region where he grew up for the first time since 2011.
Jacob remembers playing rugby for the first time for Tauranga Sports, a club he represented right throughout the junior ranks before heading away to St Peters Cambridge on a sports scholarship.
Jacob also wore the Bay colours as a junior, after representing Tauranga West Tai Mitchell in 2010 where his side won the shield in Murupara, he played for BOP in the Roller Mills tournament, where his team placed fourth.
Since returning to the Bay, Jacob has laced up once again for Tauranga Sports, where he currently plays in the Farmlands Co-operative Baywide Premier Men’s Competition.
“Playing with my younger brother Ollie for Tauranga Sports during those cold mornings at the Tauranga Domain and Blake Park are special memories for me,” says Jacob.
“We had a team that stayed together for many years through the Junior grades, which kept us tight as a group. We even won a few junior championships along the way.
“Being back in the blue and gold for the Raptors this season has definitely been nostalgic. Running out on the Domain field feels just like the old days.”
At 23, Jacob has already achieved a lot in his young career. After tearing through the Waikato and Chiefs age-grade representative ranks, he was picked up by the Tasman Mako in 2018.
His stellar play earned him look-ins with the Blues and Crusaders squads, culminating in his selection into the Maori All Blacks alongside his younger brother Ollie Norris in 2021.
After injury saw Jacob miss most of 2021’s season, he is determined to make 2022 his best campaign yet, playing for his home province on the exact ground where he grew up playing.
“Seeing players like Mike Delaney and Tanerau Latimer were always players who inspired me. Having Mike as my coach this year is a real privilege.”
“What excites me the most about being back is representing my home province. I’m excited about the season and will put my best foot forward to make it a successful one.”
The Steamers kick off their season against Wellington on August 7, in the 2022 Bunnings NPC competition. The draw is at: https://www.provincial.rugby/bunnings-npc/bunnings-npc-fixtures/
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