PLAYER PROFILE #JWC2014: Tom Sanders

Getty Images     20 May 2014     Getty Images

He had missed the first two camps but after some encouraging performances with the Crusaders Knights team, he was spotted by NZ Under-20 assistant coach Scott Robertson and gained a place at the final camp.

"I think Scott must have put in a good word for me because I don't think Chris Boyd knew who I was," Sanders said.

The 1.90m, 104kg No.8 took his chance, boosted by one 50m break off the back of a scrum, and won his way into the side.

That was great reward for hard work put in after undergoing shoulder surgery 14 months ago that meant he had only half a season of rugby last year.

But that also helped him concentrate on his studies at Lincoln University where he is now in his third year of a Bachelor of Commerce in agricultural management degree.

When contacted him he was busy getting everything sorted in his study programme in order to be able to concentrate on his month away for the championship.

Coming from Banks Peninsula, Sanders flew under the rugby radar in Canterbury compared to many who attend the more favoured rugby schools. He attended Lincoln High School where he had three years in the 1stthe Canterbury Under-18s and Under-20s while he was picked for a New Zealand Under-17 training camp after the annual South Island Under-16 tournament.

Originally a midfield back he was converted to a loose forward by club coaches early in his teens and has flourished under the guidance of his father who had been a flanker during his club playing days, and from several club coaches along the way.

Exposure to Robertson and Sam Broomhall when included in the Canterbury Schools Academy set-up also helped his development.

"Making the Under-20s side had been a bit of a dream and now I'm in the side I'm really looking forward to it. I would like to do well enough to secure a starting place in the side and to pay the selectors back by proving I was worth it," he said.

Doing well and getting a chance to play at a higher level of rugby was his ultimate goal and with his academic qualifications almost completed he is set to have all his bases covered in the years ahead.