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EXCITED youngsters, playing colleagues and former hairdressing clients were among the crowds who ensured a memorable homecoming for Feilding’s latest All Black, Aaron Smith, last Friday.
The 23 year-old halfback admitted to being “blown away” by the size and warmth of the welcome that attracted scores of people into Manchester Square for a signing and photographic session.
Smith is very much a Feilding product, developing his rugby skills through the grades of Feilding Saturday Morning Rugby, Feilding High School and Feilding Yellows. He also built up a strong client list in town through his first career choice as a talented hairdresser.
His break-out visit from the Dunedin-based Highlanders Super rugby team camp was arranged by the Manawatu District Council and Manawatu Rugby Union with the support of Feilding Promotion, Sport Manawatu, Feilding Saturday Morning Rugby and Powa Products.
The first stop was at the MDC offices where he was welcomed by Manawatu District Mayor Margaret Kouvelis and invited guests before being escorted to Manchester Square for a two-hour session that had him signing posters, balls and shirts, and posing for photos with an endless stream of supporters.
Community Development Advisor Vicki Wills said it had been a “fantastic” day and “we couldn’t have asked for a better event”.
She said Smith’s friendly, approachable manner suited the occasion perfectly and meant nothing was a problem for him.
Some of the rugby balls autographed by Smith will be auctioned at the Feilding Business Awards for charity and photographs of him with his fans can be viewed at Photographic Solutions.