Big­gest test yet for Joe

Central Leader - - Sport - By Scott Mor­gan

New Zealand ju­nior wa­ter­polo rep Joe Bens­ley will face the big­gest chal­lenge of his sport­ing ca­reer at the ju­nior world champs in Croa­tia in Au­gust.

The Mt Roskill res­i­dent, known for his goalscor­ing abil­ity, says top Euro­pean sides like Hun­gary and Italy will be tough to beat.

“Their wa­ter­polo is like our rugby. They get to train ev­ery day like the All Blacks and some of th­ese guys would be on the same money as Dan Carter.”

The Kiwi team also face the United States and a yet-to-be-an­nounced team from Asia dur­ing pool play.

Strength and fit­ness are equally im­por­tant fac­tors in the pool, with Bens­ley, 18, train­ing up to 12 times a week in the pool and gym.

“It’s pretty much one of the most phys­i­cal sports there is.”

And with that comes in­juries such as cracked ribs, dis­lo­cated joints and bro­ken fin­gers.

But Bens­ley is used to that af­ter nine years of in­volve­ment in age group teams.

He says the scores in wa­ter­polo can be rel­a­tively low or blowout to dou­ble fig­ures de­pend­ing on the stan­dard of play.

“It’s faster and more phys­i­cal when you’re play­ing with peo­ple who are more skilled.”

Bens­ley and his team­mates will also be looking to im­press pro­fes­sional and col­lege scouts at the tour­na­ment.

New Zealand coach Kurt Goldswor­thy says Bens­ley is one of the side’s key mem­bers.

“He’s got the po­ten­tial. If he puts his mind to it he can turn a game on its head,” he says.

Goldswor­thy is con­fi­dent his team can win at least one game, which would see them qual­ify for the sec­ond round.

And they will face a weaker side in the sec­ond round if they win more than one match so “we need to be as good as we can be”.

The team play in warm-up tour­na­ments in Aus­tralia and Hun­gary be­fore head­ing to Croa­tia.

If you can help raise the $10,000 needed to fund the trip email joe_the_ milky­bar_kid@hot­mail.com.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Mak­ing a splash: Joe Bens­ley will take on the best in the world at the ju­nior world wa­ter­polo champs in Croa­tia in Au­gust.

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