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Kiwi Harrison driven by death of friend

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 8/04/2016 Duncan Bech

New Zealander Teimana Harrison is driven to succeed in English rugby to honour the memory of a close friend who died in a tragic jet ski accident.

The Northampton loose forward was one of two 18-year-olds to be convicted and discharged without further penalty for causing the death of Bishop Thompson on Lake Okareka, Rotorua, in 2011.

Later that year, Harrison set off for the Franklin's Gardens academy before establishing himself in Saints' pack this season.

The English-qualified 23-year-old, who starts Saturday's Champions Cup quarter-final against Saracens at No.8, is determined to ensure his performances are worthy of his friend.

"It was a really tough time, probably one of the toughest times I've had in my life. I think it will be forever," Harrison said.

"Losing my mate and being involved in something like that was horrific. But through it all my mate's family supported me a lot. To have them behind me means that doing this is almost doing it for both of us."

Harrison says he thinks of Thompson often. They both shared the same dream as teenagers, to play for the All Blacks.

"That accident has been massive in my life and means that I am trying not to waste time with useless stuff. I've tried to get my head down and work hard. It's been massive in turning me around.

"Every now and then I'm still in touch with his family. It's a bit hard but every time I go back home, I go to see him."

Harrison's father was born in Derby, making him eligible to play for England.

That has become his new focus.

"I don't think I'd want to go home," said Harrison, who has played most of his rugby at openside flanker.

"My sights are set on England. Hopefully if I carry on playing this way and developing my game, I will be knocking on their door."

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