Chey in deep into touch
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.’’