Kick­ing ball around to Waikato jer­sey

South Waikato News - - SPORT / TE PAPA HA¯KINAKINA - By TERESA HAT­TAN

Hadleigh May came home to Ti­rau for the sum­mer to play sev­ens. He thought he would be kick­ing around with a few mates, but his sum­mer soon took a turn for the ex­cit­ing when he was asked to pull on a Waikato shirt and take to the field at the Bay­leys Na­tional Sev­ens last month.

The Waikato men’s sev­ens team went on to be crowned na­tional sev­ens cham­pi­ons at the 2015 Bay­leys Na­tional Sev­ens, held in Ro­torua on Jan­uary 17-18. It is Waikato’s sixth na­tional sev­ens ti­tle with their last win com­ing in 2010. Waikato’s win in the fi­nal, a 38-19 win over Welling­ton, was all the more re­mark­able as the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons from the cap­i­tal had al­ready beaten Waikato 35-5 in pool play.

May, who is an open side flanker, grew up play­ing age group rugby for Hin­uera Rugby Club. Af­ter school he be­gan study at Otago Uni­ver­sity and re­cently com­pleted a Di­ploma in Con­struc­tion Man­age­ment and Quan­tity Sur­vey­ing. While in Otago, May played age group rugby and played a few games for the Otago devel­op­ment side. In re­cent years he has also toured with the New Zealand Un­der-20 rugby team, trav­el­ling over­seas to coun­tries like France.

May said he came back to the Waikato for the sum­mer so he could ‘‘play with a few mates’’. But be­fore he knew it he was called into the Waikato squad.

He said sev­ens pro­vided great train­ing for the full ver­sion of the game as it kept his fit­ness up over the sum­mer. Be­ing in­volved in the Waikato team was ‘‘pretty full-on’’, May said. ‘‘There were three games each day. It was quite in­tense. It’s only seven min­utes each way but it is quite hard.

‘‘ Once we qual­i­fied it was all about each game, fo­cus­ing on each game and not wor­ry­ing about what’s ahead un­til we got into the fi­nal where it was do or die. We got thrashed by Welling­ton pre­vi­ously in our pool play on day two and then we met them in the fi­nal so we kind of had a point to prove.’’

May has played in a few fi­nals be­fore, but he said this was his first ‘‘real big’’ fi­nal. ‘‘I was quite ner­vous but once you got out there it was fine, the time flew re­ally. It was 10 min­utes each way and I got a full last half. Look­ing back it just went like that.’’

There was a rea­son­able crowd and TV cam­eras were around but you just had to put that past you and not worry about it, he said.

It was strange to re­flect back on the ex­pe­ri­ence, May said, con­sid­er­ing he had only come up to play ‘‘ca­sual sev­ens’’ with his mates. ‘‘I didn’t ex­pect to be play­ing, it kind of just hap­pened but that just shows it doesn’t mat­ter who you’re play­ing for, if you’re good enough you’ll get there. ‘‘It’s not about what club you play for. Hin­uera is a di­vi­sion one club and we had no big guns but there were still peo­ple watch­ing ev­ery game so it’s quite neat.’’

May is cur­rently plan­ning ahead to where he goes to from now.

Has a goal of mak­ing the ITM Cup and he’s now try­ing to see where the best place to do that would be.

Photo: KATRINA TANI­RAU

NA­TIONAL TI­TLE:

Ti­rau’s Hadleigh May played for Waikato at the Bay­leys Na­tional Sev­ens last month.

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