ON AJ?S TRAIL
By TONY WHITE
HE'S a strapping lad, standing 191cm and tipping the scales around 95kg.
His growing passion is rugby union, the game they play in heaven.
And rugby officials are recognising his burgeoning talent and potential.
Seventeen-year-old Year 12 Grafton High School student Codie Hearfield is earmarked to follow in the footsteps of another Graftonian, Australian Under-21 representative and NSW Waratah development squad member, AJ Whalley.
Coincidentally, Hearfield lives in the same street as the Whalley family.
"We recently moved. I'm just four doors away (from the Whalleys)," Hearfield said.
"I catch up with AJ when he comes home. I reckon he's done really well."
Hearfield has just been selected in the NSW Country junior rugby union elite group to tour New Zealand early next month.
During the 12-day tour, the team will play four games in New Zealand's South Island against feeder teams for Super 12 outfits Canterbury Crusaders and Otago Highlanders.
The tour provides not only an opportunity to travel but also to impress rugby hierarchy.
With the Super 12 expanding to 14 teams, more emphasis is being placed on junior identification.
"I'm really looking forward to New Zealand," Hearfield said.
"It should be great. I'm the only bloke from here (Grafton) but I know a lot of the other players.
"It's a great opportunity and playing against some of the Maori sides should be a big challenge.
"We also get time to do a bit of sightseeing and I know we're booked to go on the jet boats. I'm really looking forward to that."
Like Whalley in his junior days, Hearfield is a lock and back-rower.
Whalley has subsequently moved to prop to enhance his prospects of a Wallaby selection.
Hearfield plays the game with purpose and precision and is recognised for his prowess in attack and defence.