One of the best experiences of his rugby career, Simon Newton has returned from his recent tourney with the Australian Stockman Rugby Union side with some fantastic memories and a new lease on rugby so to speak.
The five-game tour started in New Zealand before finishing in Argentina and was a successful one on a collective and individual front, with the Aussie boys winning four of their five games and Newton named the best and fairest for the tour.
It capped off a stellar season for the Walcha star, who was also adjudged the Central North best and fairest.
The tour was Newton’s first with the Stockman Rugby, which uses rugby touring to offer personal and athletic development for players from remote, rural and regional Australia.
The Aussies’ only stumbling block was their final game against Banco Nacion – club of Argentinian great Hugo Porta. Newton scored all 15 of the Stockies points in the 24-15 loss.
Switching between five-eighth and centre, he also handled the kicking duties for the tour and landed three conversions in the 36-19 win over Papakura, three conversions and two penalties in their 27-17 win over the Auckland Police Rugby Union, three conversions and four penalties as they accounted for Los Tordos 33-17, and five conversions and two penalties to go with a try in their 62-nil thrashing of Atletico Del Rosario.
“I very lucky with the boot, it just seemed to work over there,” he said.
“The first game against New Zealand I was very tight and stiff from the plane trip.”
But after that things seemed to just click.
“It was just a great experience. A tour that allowed us to play some pretty good rugby at the same time as allowing us to travel through foreign countries,” Newton said.
One of highlights from his perspective was the chance to play with players from other regional and isolated areas that he hadn’t played with before, and has given him a renewed passion for the game.
“Just playing with a whole new different team with different goals just changes your goals,” he said.
It also makes you want to play better and “gives you a new lease on football”.
When you have been “playing for ages” things can get a bit stale.
Off the field two of the biggest highlights were travelling through the Andes, and the Iguazu Falls, which they visited towards the end of the tour. Sitting on the border of Argentina and Brazil, the falls are regarded as one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
Another memory he will take away is in Mendonza watching the lines painted on with a paint brush.
He also celebrated his birthday over there the day after their game against Atletico Del Rosario.
Before he headed over Newton said he was looking forward to playing in New Zealand , who are at the moment the epitome of rugby.
“They were big blokes with plenty of weight,” he said.
Yet no match for the country boys.
The win against the Auckland Police Union was especially satisfying with the Kiwis rolling out two ITM Cup players, a pair of Samoan sevens representatives and two former Super Rugby stars.
Newton said the cultural side of things in New Zealand was great but was glowing of the reception they received in Argentina.
Unpredictable on the field the way they made them feel welcome was “second to none”.
After the game they would put on a big feed and a few drinks.