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It’s lunchtime at Canberra Grammar School and most of the year 12 boys are busy preparing for their afternoon classes.
With an alumni list that includes the likes of Gough Whitlam, Kerry Packer and David Gallop, Grammar has always been regarded as a centre of academic excellence. But the 2012 boys have become equally as renowned for their abilities with an oval-shaped ball as they have for hitting the books.
For the first time, the 1st XV claimed the ACT Under 18’s Premiership in 2012. As a reward, the side’s tallest timber, lock Tom Staniforth, was named in the Australian Schoolboys side for the second year running.
At 1.96m and counting, there’s little doubt Staniforth has the size and ability to have a genuine crack at professional rugby. On the field Staniforth shows plenty of mongrel. He likes the tough stuff and has developed a reputation around rugby circles as one of the ACT’s up-and-coming hard men.
But off the field, Staniforth is never one to go looking for the limelight. A modest guy, Staniforth even tried to keep his University of Canberra Brumbies training spot under wraps.
“When I made the Aussie Schools, my mates were all pretty happy for me I guess, normal mate stuff. I kept it all pretty low key but I could tell they were all pretty happy for me?” Staniforth said.
“I haven’t really told many of my mates that I’ve been training with the Brumbies – one of my mates Harry read it in the paper and gave me a phone call asking ‘why didn’t you tell me’.
“I like to keep this sort of stuff close to my chest. I’d rather keep a lid on it. It’s just how I am.”
Training with big names like Ben Mowen, Dan Palmer and former Grammar boy Peter Kimlin, Staniforth has been soaking up the experience of professional rugby like a sponge.
The 18-year old said he could already see improvements in his game and was thoroughly enjoying rubbing shoulders with the full-timers at Brumbies Rugby.
“I’ve got heaps out of it so far, I’m learning stuff every day. I’ve been taking notice of how the senior guys complete their skills and drills and their training habits. I think I’m learning about 10 things every day,” he said.
“I’ve enjoyed training with all the guys. Bongo (Josh Mann-Rea) has been really good to me and made me feel pretty welcome. It’s nice that he’s one of the older guys here and I’m probably one of the youngest.
“I’ve just got to keep listening and practising, keep doing my extras and I’m sure my game will improve. There’s plenty to learn and I’m aware of that but this is a great opportunity for me and I’m aware of that.
“I definitely see myself having a career in rugby but there’s a lot of hard work to get through between then and now.”
Staniforth will continue to train with the University of Canberra Brumbies until the Christmas break, with Head Coach Jake White and Forwards Coach Laurie Fisher set to monitor his progress at club level during 2013.
HW: 1.96m, 105kg
School: Canberra Grammar
Representative Honours: Australian Schoolboys 2011, 2012