Star schoolboy player foots it with seniors

Last updated 05:00 19/02/2014

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Connah Pamatatau has a sure touch.

The 17-year-old St Pat's Silverstream pupil has made the open Touch Blacks, New Zealand's premier touch rugby team.

The year 13 pupil will take on Australia in the Trans-Tasman series at Mudgee in April.

Selection for the Touch Blacks has also put him in the frame for the 2015 Touch World Cup in Australia.

Pamatatau learnt he had made the Touch Blacks last month but the team was not made public till a couple of weeks ago.

"I knew I had been selected for about a month but couldn't tell anybody."

A squad of 20 was announced in November and Pamatatau made the cut when the final 16 were selected, following last month's Whakatane open.

"I thought my form had been pretty good but I hadn't been too confident [about making the team] because I was the youngest."

Though he is in year 13, Pamatatau is young for his school year and did not turn 17 till this month.

There are two schoolboys in the national side, the other being Cody Mahukia from St Peter's in Auckland.

Pamatatau took up touch rugby at primary school and has long been tagged as a rising star.

He has already played for New Zealand at an under-15 and under-17 level and was a standout performer when Silverstream finished sixth at the national secondary schools tournament in December.

"I like the speed of it and I've also travelled the country and met new people with touch."

There are 14 players in a touch team but only six are on the field, with the squad rotated with rolling subs.

Senior games are usually 20 minutes each way, with 15 minutes each way for under-17 and junior grades.

Pamatatau plays as a middle.

"We are the workhorses of the team. You are running most of the time and you need to be pretty fit.

"I'm not the fastest but I'm fast enough."

Pamatatau also has a touch pedigree, as his father, George, represented the Cook Islands at a world cup, while his mother, Brenda, was a good hockey player.

Connah trains virtually every day, in sessions with his club, school and representative teams.

"I do a lot of cardio training and road running."

He also plays 15-a-side rugby and will be trialling for the Silverstream first XV this year, as either a halfback or first five-eighth, though at 67 kilograms, he will not be one of the giants.

"Im trying to put on a bit of weight and would like to be bigger - just so I don't get squashed."

He has played at halfback for the past two years and was selected for the Wellington under-17 B side last year, but had to pull out because of his touch commitments.

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A house leader at Silverstream, Pamatatau has been able to find sufficient time for his academic commitments and hopes to study either architecture or industrial design at university next year, while his sporting goal for 2015 will be to make the Touch World Cup team.

- The Dominion Post

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