Tal­ented Auck­land touch reps im­press at ju­nior na­tion­als

Auckland City Harbour News - - SPORT - By LAU­REN PRIESTLEY

Young­sters from Auck­land came out on top at the SAS Ju­nior Na­tion­als Touch Cham­pi­onships held in Pa­pamoa on Fe­bru­ary 14 to 16.

Six Auck­land teams across all grades took part in the event and ev­ery Auck­land team fin­ished in the top four of their grade.

Auck­land was also awarded the in­au­gu­ral SAS Provin­cial Cup for the best per­form­ing prov­ince at the na­tion­als.

Auck­land Touch pres­i­dent Rolph Wat­son says the tour­na­ment was a stun­ning suc­cess.

Based on their per­for­mances, 18 Auck­land play­ers were se­lected for the un­der-15 and un­der17 New Zealand de­vel­op­ment teams to tour Aus­tralia in Au­gust and Septem­ber. Eight of the se­lected play­ers live in Cen­tral Auck­land.

An­other 23 play­ers have been se­lected to at­tend the Na­tional Youth Elite Academy in Septem­ber. The num­ber shows just how strong touch is in Auck­land, Mr Wat­son says.

‘‘It’s an hon­our to have strong young play­ers rep­re­sent­ing Auck­land Touch with pride and earn­ing re­spectabil­ity from their peers.

The Ju­nior Na­tion­als has grown from a 12-team re­gional event to a provin­cial-based event that in­cludes 64 teams.

It is by far the largest an­nual na­tional event run by Touch New Zealand, Mr Wat­son says.

‘‘Ju­nior-age touch in New Zealand is the foun­da­tion cor­ner­stone for our sport at the grass­roots level. This, by de­fault, feeds into the ju­nior-age rep­re­sen­ta­tive lev­els with sig­nif­i­cant in­creased par­tic­i­pa­tion na­tion­ally.’’

Good mood: Pon­sonby play­ers run on to the field.

Top player: Auck­land’s Tysha Ike­na­sio has made the un­der-17 New Zealand rep­re­sen­ta­tive team.

Pho­tos: JEREMY WARD/SHOT360.CO.NZ

Fu­ture star: Auck­land player Vic­to­ria Pone, cen­tre, was se­lected for the un­der-15 New Zealand team af­ter the Ju­nior Touch Na­tion­als.

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