Former teammates could meet on the international stage

NEXT LEVEL: Phil Burleigh (left) could face off against his former school and teammate Ryan Crotty. PHOTO: Supplied

Two former New Brighton players could meet this month on the international rugby

Phil Burleigh has been selected for the Scottish national squad while his good mate Ryan Crotty has made the All Black centre position his own.

The duo spent plenty of time together growing up, playing through the grades at New Brighton and in the same first XV side at Shirley Boys’ High during the 2004 and 2005 seasons.

Now there is a chance they could line up against each other during the end of year tour when the All Blacks play Scotland on November 18 at Murrayfield.

Phil’s father, Wayne, said if you told him five years ago it would happen he would have said ‘you’re crazy.’

FINGERS CROSSED: Wayne Burleigh (left) and best mate Steve Crotty are hoping their sons are selected to play each other in the end of year test in Scotland. PHOTO: Martin Hunter

“We are pinching ourselves about the fact it could happen. It would be a dream come true if he could play Ryan,” he said.

Both have played each other at Super Rugby and provincial level.

“They are really good mates. After one game they were still on the field after half an hour, chatting away,” Wayne said.

Crotty’s father Steve and Wayne have been mates for years and even flatted together “many years ago” on Marine Pde and also played rugby in the same New Brighton team during the 80s.

“It is a special occasion for both families,” Steve said. “We know exactly what they are going through after hearing about the selection. We have been through it and we know how proud they will be,” he said.

Phil joined Edinburgh Rugby on a two-year deal in the summer of 2014 from the Highlanders and extended his contract in 2016 for another two. His time spent playing rugby in Scotland saw him eligible for selection in the national side.

He does have Scottish heritage with his great-grandmother born in Aberdeen, but the requirement for entry into the national side cuts off at the grandparents.

Another former New Brighton player Kieron Fonotia could also be selected for Manu Samoa for the test against Scotland on November 11 at Murrayfield.

Coincidentally, he also was in the same Shirley first XV team in 2005 with Burleigh and Crotty. Shirley head of rugby John Fox said they were all were incredibly talented, but they had to work for it.

“They all put in the hard work to get to where they are. They are great examples to the up-and-coming kids in rugby,” he said.