NZ Ma¯ori rugby rep

Hauraki Herald - - SPORT - JILL CLEAVE

Play­ing against the Tonga Un­der 18 team brought some sur­prises for a young Paeroa player.

Coel Kerr, 17, who was cho­sen for the New Zealand Un­der 18 Ma¯ori team to play Tonga and the New Zealand Schools Bar­bar­ians teams in Oc­to­ber, said it was a big cul­ture shock for him.

‘‘I loved the tour­na­ment and play­ing was great, but all us boys thought we would be play­ing Ton­gans who lived in New Zealand. These fel­las were gen­uine Ton­gans who could not speak very much English,’’ he said.

Coel, who has been play­ing rugby since he was eight-years-old, the first two in Thames and the rest in Paeroa, has been a Thames Val­ley rep­re­sen­ta­tive since he was 12-years-old.

He said his fa­ther Michael had been the big­gest in­flu­ence in his play­ing ca­reer.

‘‘Even though he reck­ons I’m play­ing the soft game, he plays league, he has put me through my paces and kept me at it,’’ he said.

Not that it has taken much to keep his in­ter­est in sport. He lists net­ball, basketball, touch and league as just a few of the sports he loves. ‘‘I love all sports,’’ he said. New Zealand Rugby Ma¯ori Board’s Dr Farah Palmer,said it was only the sec­ond year an Un­der 18 Ma¯ori team had been se­lected.

‘‘It was cre­ated to en­cour­age tal­ented young Ma¯ori to stay in rugby and pro­vide them with de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties both on and off the field. It pro­vides a gen­uine rugby path­way for ran­gatahi, youth, to step up from rep­re­sent­ing their re­gions to higher hon­ours,’’ he said.

‘‘What makes this team dif­fer­ent is the con­nec­tion of all play­ers and coaches to ‘Te Ao Ma¯ori’ the Ma¯ori World. ‘‘ Coel said it had been a huge ex­pe­ri­ence. ‘‘What I en­joyed learn­ing about most was the cul­ture,’’ he said.

Coel has just been named as a re­cip­i­ent of the Lin­coln Uni­ver­sity Sports Schol­ar­ship which of­fers stu­dents an op­por­tu­nity to gain a world class aca­demic qual­i­fi­ca­tion, while de­vel­op­ing their sport­ing abil­ity to a pro­fes­sional level.

He said he will be com­plet­ing a Bach­e­lor of Com­merce while he keeps play­ing and train­ing.

JILL CLEAVE/STUFF

Paeroa Col­lege stu­dent Coel Kerr who re­cently played in the New Zealand Rugby Maori Un­der 18 team against Tonga and the Bar­bar­ians.

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