Hay­den joins Har­lequins

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By NI­COLA STE­WART

Mata­mata Col­lege stu­dent Hay­den Bell is com­ing up with some of Waikato’s best young rugby play­ers in the New Zealand Har­lequins un­der-17 team.

Bell was se­lected to trial for the Waikato side af­ter a strong sea­son as hooker for the Col­lege First XV.

Af­ter a three-day train­ing camp with for­mer All Black Carl Hoeft, he made the train­ing squad and two weeks later was named in the fi­nal team of 25.

‘‘I was pretty happy,’’ Bell said. ‘‘It’s kind of cool, you play against all these dif­fer­ent guys over the sea­son and then you come to­gether to play with them.’’

Deon Muir, for­mer cap­tain of Waikato, the Chiefs and the New Zealand Maori, is coach­ing the side.

‘‘He’s a pretty good coach,’’ Bell said. ‘‘He re­ally knows his stuff.’’ The team are off to a strong start, tak­ing out their first three clashes against King Coun­try, Thames Val­ley and the Vik­ings.

‘‘ We have a pretty good chance of win­ning, I think,’’ said Bell.

The 17-year-old has played two sea­sons for the First XV and was se­lected to trial for the Waikato un­der-16s last year but was un­able to play.

He has also played for the un­der-15 and un­der-14 Corinthian teams and rep­re­sented Mata­mata in Gwynne Shield rugby.

‘‘I’ve got quite a few mates from past rep teams in [the Har­lequins] as well, which is cool,’’ he said.

Get­ting out on to the field with the team was the best part of the game for Bell.

‘‘It’s just fun, I get to muck around with all my mates.’’

As well as rugby, Bell plays cricket, vol­ley­ball and ta­ble tennis, and he said that apart from school and his part-time job, al­most all his time was spent play­ing sport.

In fact, when he got the call from the Har­lequins, he was half­way through play­ing a fi­nals match for ta­ble tennis.

‘‘I was jump­ing for joy,’’ Bell said. ‘‘And then I lost the fi­nal.’’ On Septem­ber 27, the Har­lequins will play the New Zealand Area Schools team at Waikato Sta­dium as a cur­tain raiser to a Waikato ITM cup match.

Up-and-comer: Mata­mata Col­lege stu­dent Hay­den Bell is play­ing for the New Zealand Har­lequins un­der17 team this sea­son.

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