Hayden joins Harlequins
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.