Speaking on the All Blacks Podcast presented by Vodafone, Lienert-Brown gave an impassioned plea for players to not be discouraged if they miss out on representative selection at a young age.
“The biggest problem is that school kids think that school rugby is everything. If they don’t make the First Fifteen or if they don’t make NZ Secondary Schools they get discouraged and they might stop playing,” Lienert-Brown said.
Looking at the All Blacks 2019 Rugby World Cup squad, the 25-year-old midfielder said several players in the squad had made their mark on the international stage despite never being selected for the New Zealand Secondary Schools while at college.
“I’m not saying that NZ schools (Secondary Schools) isn’t a big thing, it’s awesome to make, it’s just not the be all and end all.
“Kids have got to understand that there has been second, third or even fourth fifteen rugby players, that have made the All Blacks, have made Super Rugby and have made a career out of rugby,” Lienert-Brown said.
The 43-Test midfielder said All Blacks great Richie McCaw was a prime example of someone who excelled after leaving school. McCaw missed out on selection in the New Zealand Secondary Schools in 1998 and didn’t gain national honours until after he had left school with the New Zealand Under 19s the following year.
“People blossom at different times, for any of the teenage kids out there, don’t be discouraged from what you are doing at the moment. There’s always plenty of time and if you work hard and are dedicated you will reap the rewards,” Lienert-Brown said.
The first episode of All Blacks Podcast presented by Vodafone is available now to listen on all of your regular podcast channels (Soundcloud, i tunes, stitcher and Spotify) and to watch in full on Youtube.