A call for the first Asian All Black may soon be answered.
A North Shore Times story reported Professor Paul Spoonley of Massey University saying that mainstream sports such as rugby must make more effort to attract Asians.
"I am waiting for that first generation of New Zealand born Asians, to be in our sports teams, for that first Asian All Black."
The North Harbour Rugby Union's latest data shows a rise in the number of Asian players.
Officials say one of the most promising players to rise through the ranks is New Zealand-born Korean Steven Hong, 20.
The East Coast Bays Rugby Club hooker and his twin brother David are earmarked as top future talent for the union.
Steven has this year been named in the North Harbour U20 squad.
East Coast Bays U21 coach Andrew Colson says Steven has the potential to play at ITM Cup level if not higher.
"He's not the biggest fella on the field but man can he tackle," Mr Colson says. "He's very assertive on the field, very physical and an asset to any team."
Steven is just over 90 kilograms and has the perfect build for rugby, Mr Colson says. "He is almost naturally designed for getting low in the tackle, pushing in the scrum and for clean outs."
Steven first got into
the sport for a bit of fun with his mates but says it has grown into a dream to play professionally. He has represented North Harbour in the age grades and played two successful seasons in the Westlake Boys High School 1st XV, winning the North Harbour competition in 2008.
"My favourite part of the game is tackling, it's pretty fun smashing people," Steven says.
His advice to young Asian boys keen to give rugby a go is to try it socially first.
"I've found size isn't everything. I know plenty of good players that aren't big at all and it doesn't stop them."
Mum Sophia Lee says she is proud of her boys but has always worried about them getting injured.
Steven suffered a serious knee injury midway through this season.
Steven has undergone three prior knee operations and is now faced with a tough decision regarding his rugby future.
"The cartilage is the problem, it's just completely worn out and they've said I can't play any more," he says.
Mr Colson says it would be great for rugby if he does come back and is urging Steven to seek further advice.
- © Fairfax NZ News