Chey in deep into touch

South Waikato News - - SPORT - By PET­RICE TAR­RANT

Cracking New Zealand touch sides seems to be a handy habit of Chey Riki-Ha­mana’s.

The tal­ented sports­man has been selected in the New Zealand un­der19 men’s squad – the fourth con­sec­u­tive year he has been cho­sen to rep­re­sent his coun­try.

Riki-Ha­mana said he started play­ing touch when he was 12 and within a year was selected to play for the Bay of Plenty un­der-13 team.

He continues to pull his boots out each year be­cause he ‘‘ likes the com­pet­i­tive­ness and it’s real fun’’.

But the 17- year- old said his true sport­ing pas­sion lies with the rougher game of rugby.

‘‘ Rugby is my main sport but [touch] is the one I en­joy the most.’’

The Toko­roa-born ath­lete made the Waikato Rugby Union un­der-17 side this year and said it would be a dream to play pro­fes­sion­ally in the 15-a-side game.

The Hamil­ton Boys High School stu­dent, full­back for the renown school’s first XV, said his school team will set off for Ja­pan in the up­com­ing hol­i­days.

It is cer­tainly eas­ier on the pocket com­pared to touch, he said.

The New Zealand rep will foot the bill for all the in­ter­na­tional camps the touch side at­tends, in­clud­ing the tran­sTas­man tour­na­ment next year.

‘‘It’s pretty ex­pen­sive but I’ve had heaps of sup­port from the Tok com­mu­nity in the past and from my fam­ily.’’

Riki-Ha­mana’s fam­ily agrees his suc­cess is largely down to the back­ing of his home­town and the people in it.

He was only in intermediate when a teacher at Toko­roa High picked him up for the sec­ondary team.

Riki-Ha­mana said there is still an­other se­lec­tion process to go through be­fore the fi­nal side is de­ter­mined.

‘‘I’d just like to thank my par­ents and my coaches Mita Gra­ham and Nigel Hotham – with­out their coach­ing I wouldn’t be where I am to­day.’’

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