Anton Segner is an unlikely rugby fan, having grown up in football crazy Frankfurt. But as Lynn McConnell explains, the Blues loose forward is on track to one day realise his dream of playing for the All Blacks.
Imagine being a rugby fanatic from a rugby backwater like Frankfurt, Germany and finding yourself at the 2015 Rugby World Cup final, the greatest of all finals, watching your All Blacks heroes in action.
Blues' German-born loose forward Anton Segner was in that situation when he was 14. Segner's father, who knew little of rugby, had bought himself, rugby-mad Anton, and his older brother, tickets to attend the World Cup.
"It was awesome. We went to three games there, including the final and Dad just loved it live,” Segner says
“That sparked the interest for him, and now he knows the game very well. He reckons he knows it well enough to give me feedback after every game.
"Watching his hero of the time, fellow loose forward Richie McCaw leading the All Blacks to a second triumph within four years, and seeing future Blues team-mate, Beauden Barrett scorch across the sacred Twickenham turf to seal the deal, Segner knew he wanted more.
McCaw retired immediately after the event, and Segner slotted Ardie Savea into his place as a player to follow because of the hunger and mindset he showed during games.
Becoming part of the Blues in 2022 created other opportunities to learn, at first-hand, aspects of loose forward play."Now, I look to closer mates like Dalton [Papalii], Hoskins [Sotutu] and Aki [Akira Ioane].
Being in the loose forwards, with all those guys as All Blacks, is a huge opportunity for me to learn off them. They've welcomed me with open arms."Sharing in the Blues reclaiming a position of stature in Super Rugby Pacific during the Covid pandemic, Segner has gained more playing time than he expected at the start of the season.
Those opportunities have demonstrated why he has moved so quickly through the ranks of one of the more remarkable stories. He's shown outstanding tackling skills and an appreciation of what's required at the breakdown, and in support play.
Continue this story in our Jun/ July issue.
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