The Dominion Post
Schoolboy bolter in Tall Blacks
Rosmini College schoolboy Taine Murray has bolted into the Tall Blacks’ World Cup selection frame, after being named in their 14-man squad for this month’s trip to Japan and Australia.
The 17-year-old impressed so much at this week’s selection camp in Auckland, that coach Paul Henare said he had no option but to pick him, for the nine-day camp in Japan for two games against the hosts, which is followed by two matches against Canada in Sydney.
After those Canada clashes on August 20 and 21, the final squad of 12 will be named for the World Cup, which is in China from August 31 to September 15.
‘‘Taine has impressed us all these past few days and quite simply played his way into the 14,’’ Henare said. ‘‘He has a composure beyond his years and is going to develop into a very good player, but already at 17 has shown that he feels at home at this level.’’
The 1.93m point guard has only been playing the game for three years, but is in the Breakers academy and was named MVP at a recent NBA-sponsored camp in China.
The year 12 student was somewhat lost for words when he heard his name read out by Henare in the team meeting room yesterday morning.
‘‘Hearing my name called was extremely humbling and I am so grateful for the opportunity that lays before me,’’ Murray said.
‘‘It has been amazing learning from some of the finest players and coaches that New Zealand has to offer during the course of the camp, and I am just so excited for the next few weeks.’’
Amongst the squad, Tom Abercrombie, at 32, has the most World Cup experience, set for his third campaign, while Jarrod Kenny, Corey Webster, Tai Webster, Alex Pledger, Rob Loe and Isaac Fotu are all headed for their second.
Henare is delighted with the balance and depth in the roster,
‘‘We have chosen a combination of players that complement each other on and off the floor,’’ he said. ‘‘They understand what we stand for and what we are looking to achieve in China and will do anything for each other.
‘‘We believe we have a balanced group of players, a group that is young in age but long in experience and understands the pressure we will face in the weeks ahead and the opportunity that is in front of them. Our focus is now solely on being ready to face Brazil on September 1st. We have a lot of work to do but can’t wait.’’
The 14 players were to have one final practice in Auckland yesterday afternoon before jetting out to Japan this morning.