NZ Ma¯ori rugby rep
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.
Paeroa College student Coel Kerr who recently played in the New Zealand Rugby Maori Under 18 team against Tonga and the Barbarians.