Green and black in the blood

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Jacob Carmichael has shifted from Australia to follow in his uncle Jeremy Winders' footsteps and line up for the Marist Rugby Club in Invercargill.

THERE was a point almost 30 years ago when the Marist and Blues rugby clubs went ever so close to merging.

Combining playing numbers, and resources in general, was seen as a possible way forward for the two clubs. At the time Marist was struggling.

However, then-teenager Jeremy Winders passionately pleaded against the potential move. He urged the green-and-black brigade to continue to go it alone.

Many say that emotive speech was a turning point.

His father Bert was a staunch Marist man, as was his uncle Bill McCaw.

Many others in the family wore the green and black jersey with pride while plying their rugby trade, including Jeremy’s three brothers.

That amalgamation never happened.

As the story goes, the vote was swayed from 90% in favour of a merger to 90% agreeing for Marist to continue to carve out its own path.

The likes of Jeremy Winders and Brendan Nally wanted the chance to follow in their elders’ footsteps at Marist and they got their wish.

Winders went on to play 20 seasons of senior rugby for Marist as a flanker who showed little regard for his body.

He hung up the boots in 2001 after winning the Galbraith Shield that year.

Seventeen years after Winders called time on his playing days, he is bubbling with pride as another member of the family continues the tradition by playing for Marist’s premier team.

His nephew Jacob Carmichael has this season joined Marist in their push for back-to-back Galbraith Shield titles.

The 19-year-old grew up in Australia where rugby for him started in the under-7 ranks, then through first 15 rugby and on to the West Bulldogs club in Brisbane in his first year out of school last year.

While he has lived all his life in Australia, he has been well aware of the family history at Marist.

His uncle Jeremy often planted the seed of one day coming to New Zealand to play for Marist.

“There has always been that empty sort of feeling knowing there is a club there that is so important to the family, but you don’t have the opportunity to play for them. It is very special to get the chance now to play for Marist,” Carmichael said.

“Uncle Jeremy is also pretty persuasive. I talked to him on the Friday about possibly coming over to play for Marist and by Monday I was on the plane.”

Carmichael followed his uncle’s footsteps by playing on the openside flank in his school days.

However, he was deemed by many as too short to play on the flank and last year made the switch to halfback, where he is now playing for Marist.

Just how long he sticks around in Invercargill is unknown, but Carmichael has recently been included in a training squad for the Southland under-19 team which could extend his stint in the south.

He is hoping to make the final cut which would see him line up for Southland in the national under-19 tournament in September.

Uncle Jeremy hopes the stay turns out to be an extended one.

“He’s not an import, he is part of the Marist family. If you cut him open he’ll bleed green.”

Marist sit top of the 2018 Southland premier club standings with five games to play in round-robin play.

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