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Boston Keeping Norths in the Hunt

Boston Hunt being presented the Player of the Jubilee Cup MVP on Saturday. PHOTO: Stewart Baird.

  • By Adam Julian

Norths lock Boston Hunt won the Jim Brown Memorial Medal as man of the match in the Jubilee Cup final against Petone on Saturday.

Norths won a cliffhanger of a contest 23-20 to capture Wellington club supremacy for the sixth time and complete the male/female championship double for the fourth time.

“I was completely surprised to win. I was expecting Jacko (Jackson Garden-Bachop) or Ethan Robinson-Mate to win it. I gave it to Mum and Dad afterwards. It’s pretty special,” Hunt said.

Jubilee Cup final rugby union match between Northern United v Petone, played on 23 July 2022,

Hunt winning another lineout, late in the final on Saturday. PHOTO: Stewart Baird.

In 2017 Hunt was told by a doctor he would never play rugby again. While a fullback at St Patrick’s College, Wellington he suffered a horror broken leg in a traditional match against St John’s College, Hastings.

“It happened after about 20 minutes. I took a grass cut tackle with no arms and my PCL, ACL and meniscus all went. I think the St John’s player got a red card for the tackle.

“The worst thing about it was that I was playing well. I’d scored a try and we were in the lead.”

Recovery was gruelling with Hunt sidelined for 18 months, enduring tough walking, swimming, squatting and cycling to strengthen the muscles and bones.

“You’re tall, you’re playing lock,” Hunt laughs when reflecting upon his first meeting with the Norths Premiers in 2020. Conceding he’d lost pace, Hunt was forced to shift inwards to the forwards. His start was raw.

“I struggled with confidence, worried my leg would give in. I learned how to jump from Quaid Martin-Laumatia and Parekura Lalaga taught me some things about how to get around the park but it wasn’t natural.”

Hunt played eight games in 2020. His Jubilee Cup final appearance wasn’t noteworthy. Norths was beaten by Old Boys University with Hunt getting two minutes off the bench.

Norths struggled desperately for numbers at the beginning of the 2022 season. Hunt was a reliable regular and ultimately featured in 15 of 17 games.

After a month of the Swindale Shield, Norths were 1-4. In Round six they trailed Upper Hutt 30-24 with time almost up. Had Hunt not scored a try to win the game it’s highly probable Norths wouldn’t have gone on to win the Jubilee Cup.

“I don’t know about that,” Hunt refuted.

“We never stopped believing, but it’s true we needed something like that.”

“Luca Rees did a pick and go. The boys set up a ruck and I had the next take up. I scooped up the ball, went right and got tackled. I twisted my body and got my arm over. I knew I got it down, but wasn’t sure if the ref saw it. The Upper Hutt boys were claiming I knocked it on. It was a relief when the try was given.”

A month later Norths was on a roll. Prop Jerome Vaai played his 100th game in their 34-26 victory over Marist St Pats in Round 10 of the Swindale Shield – a fourth win on the trot and a personal highlight for Hunt who’d never beaten MSP.

Hunt a picture of concentration in the final. PHOTO: Andy McArthur.

Petone beat Norths twice prior to the Jubilee Cup final. Norths strategy to flip those results Hunt explained was simple.

“We wanted to keep the ball out of our half, use the boot of Jacko to control territory.”

“We lost structure before halftime so the break came at a good time for us.

“Petone is a great side. It went back and forth and could have gone either way. Our young boys like Bradley Crichton really stepped up and having Jacko and TJ Perenara really helped.”

Perenara nearly, literally, threw the game away when he fired a pass off a scrum that was intercepted by Petone second-five Riley Higgins who scored a try in front of his uncle Richard on the Norths coaching staff.

“I was in the scrum and when I looked up I was like I can’t do anything about that. When we got into the goal TJ was the one doing the talking. He took ownership and told us not to panic. There was still plenty of time.”

The toil of Hunt was vital in propelling Norths to glory. He joins Chris Middleton (Norths, 2008), Steven Bradshaw (HOBM, 2014) and Hemi Fermanis (Tawa, 2021) as a lock to win the Jim Brown Memorial Medal.

His haircut by contrast wasn’t glorious. Hunt sported a blue smurf look for the decider.

“I’ve had a few funny looks at work,” Hunt laughs

“I wanted to show some passion and colour for the club. This victory is dedicated to Boss Passi, our original Norths TV commentator who passed away this year. Boss was the man.”

Sit back and watch extended highlights of the final at the link above or at

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