Greg Newton enjoys fostering softball talent
Former Black Sox softball pitcher Greg Newton believes he is in the best position to use his skills as coach of the New Zealand boys' under-17 team.
The team left for Sydney yesterday to compete in the International Friendship Series against Australian state teams.
The tournament should see the Kiwis play 10 games in a week, an experience which Timaru-based Newton said would be invaluable.
Newton, who was part of the Black Sox pitching roster when they won the 2000 world championships in South Africa and who has led the Canterbury men's team to national glory during his four seasons as head coach, said he was able to impart more advice on younger players than he could at the highest level.
"I think I'm able to help more when it comes to players of this age," he said. "It's exciting to watch them progress.
"It's about giving them practice and teaching them habits and helping them find their way.
"In the Canterbury men's team we have four Black Sox and I'd be less inclined to tell them how to swing a bat or field the outfield, since I was a pitcher.
"Here it's a bit different. It's about getting them used to scenarios that happen in a game."
Newton said the tournament was a stepping stone for the under-19 programme.
Despite his success with the Canterbury men's side, Newton said he did not intend to put himself in a position for the Black Sox coaching job in the future and was happy working at national age-group level. He said it was important that softball offered young players a pathway so they were not lost to other sports.
One of Canterbury's top young prospects, Bailey Hamilton, who has a strong arm and is quick around the bases, is also a winger for the St Bede's first XV.
Newton said the team would play two warm-up games to start with, then the tournament proper would begin, which also included a game against their Australian counterparts.
The Timaru Herald