HE MAY well have a lot to live up to but George Stanger has World Cup success firmly in his sights as he makes a name for himself with New Zealand.
The Hamilton Accies youngster is the son of 1990 Grand Slam rugby hero Tony but it is mum Bid’s Kiwi heritage he is honoured to be following with a round ball.
The 18-year-old is currently in Poland at the FIFA U-20 World Cup and has helped New Zealand through the group stage to a last-16 meeting with Colombia on Sunday evening.
The defender has started all three games so far for Des Buckingham’s side, who will make history for the nation if they beat the South Americans and reach the quarter-finals for the first time ever.
Stanger was a surprise call-up ahead of the tournament but is thrilled to have caught the eye of Buckingham from the other side of the world and to get the chance to rub shoulders with the best youngsters in the world.
He told Capital City Press: “It’s been really good, I’ve enjoyed the experience so far, and it’s been a huge positive that we’ve got two really good results.
“We’ve performed really well in the group stage and hopefully we can continue that into the round of 16 and get a result against Colombia.
“It is the world stage, there’s loads of good players here, but we’re confident in ourselves and as a team. We know we’re a good team and we can play well.
“You don’t want to go home, we want to be in this competition for as long as we can and hopefully play as well as we know we can and beat Colombia.
“It’s a great honour to play in a World Cup and the whole experience has been amazing so far.”
Stanger’s mum, who was herself a successful junior athlete, and sister, Rosie, have been out supporting him during the group games and they plan to return with dad Tony should the Junior All Whites reach the quarter-finals.
For some, having such a famous father could prove a burden, but Stanger junior takes nothing but strength from his folks’ support.
He added: “My parents have done so much to get me to where I am today. Without them I don’t think I would be where I am.
“They’re really supportive and have helped me a lot throughout my football, and they’re really proud of me right now, which is a great feeling because I want to make them proud after everything they’ve done for me.
“My mum’s really excited at me representing New Zealand and she loved coming out to support us. The whole family’s been so supportive and that helps push you on during games.”