A Waikato wheelchair rugby star from Te Aroha has been picked to represent New Zealand overseas again.
Robbie Hewitt, who attended the world's biggest wheelchair rugby tournament in Germany in March, has been selected for the Wheel Blacks team to compete in a tri-series event in Australia this year against the hosts and the United States.
It will be the 29-year-old's second international rugby event.
With the US and Australia sharing the top two world rankings, Mr Hewitt said it would be great if New Zealand - ranked 10th - could come out on top. The Te Aroha-born rugby enthusiast had played only in provincial wheelchair rugby events representing Waikato before the competition in Germany.
Mr Hewitt said the European event provided a good experience of the sport overseas and was an eye-opener. There were more than 40 teams compared with the half-dozen or so in New Zealand and the intensity was "incredible". It made him sharpen his skills, he said.
Mr Hewitt has been in a wheelchair since he broke his neck in a rugby game for Waihou in June 2009. The injury left him paralysed.
The Wheel Blacks player still has the ultimate goal of representing New Zealand at the 2016 Rio Paralympics and is looking forward to the world championships next year.
As well as making the New Zealand team, Mr Hewitt received the Most Outstanding Achievement Award for his performance at the Bernd Best Tournament in Germany.
Mr Hewitt, who works as a community rugby assistant for the Waikato Rugby Union, felt it was recognition for the hard yards he had put in over the past few years.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Should Sonny Bill Williams stuck to rugby and come back to the Chiefs?Related story: (See story)