Eru Cooper TahuriEru Cooper Tahuri. Photo suppliedMid Canterbury rugby player Eru Cooper-Tahuri has achieved one of his big goals after pulling on the silver fern to represent New Zealand over the weekend.

The 18-year-old, who plays his club rugby in Ashburton for Celtic, was named as part of the New Zealand Maori Under-18 side that played two matches last week, one against the New Zealand Schools’ Barbarians and then the Tongan Schools’ side.

“It was a top level of rugby and a good experience, it was very hard and quite a challenge,” he said.

“We went there to prove ourselves and make our own statement and we did that by almost beating the Barbarians.”

When it came to the highlight of the time away, the answer was easy for Cooper-Tahuri.

“It was pulling on the jersey and representing New Zealand, and seeing that silver fern on my chest,” he said.

While rugby was a big focus on the trip, Cooper-Tahuri said there was also a lot of cultural learning involved with the time spent in the camp.

“We learnt all about our ancestry and the Maori Battalion and lots of little activities,” he said.

“There was a routine where we would get up early in the morning and go out and do prayers and stuff, and the same in the evening before bed.”

There were 25 players in the squad, all of whom formed a quick bond.

“There was a really good bond early on.

“It was awesome to meet so many people and still be in contact with them,” he said.

While play time was spread evenly over the two games, Cooper-Tahuri said he got more game time in the first match against the Barbarians, as it was a game they were really wanting to win.

“We were really wanting to win that Barbarians game to make a statement so some guys got more time than others,” he said.

By Jaime Pitt-MacKay © The Ashburton Guardian - 11 October 2017

AshColl shooting team 2017The successful Ashburton College team Lanelle Millar-McArthur (from left), Emma Smith, Shania Harrison-Lee and manager/coach Steve McArthur. Photo suppliedAshburton College and Mid Canterbury have kept their shooting reputation intact after winning the teams’ event New Zealand Secondary School Championships in Palmerston North.

The team posted a score of 875.33. Shania Harrison-Lee shot 289.11, Lanelle Millar-McArthur 292.11 and Emma Smith 294.11.

They finished ahead of Wellington College in second place, and Fielding High School in third.

Team manager/coach Steve McArthur said he was extremely happy to see how the team performed.

“They have been working really hard and it is good to see that hard work has paid off,” he said.

Not only did they perform well as a team, their performances also earned all three shooters a place in the South Island team that shot against the North Island, with Smith named as captain.

They all contributed to the side defeating the North Island team 1930.77 to 1924.75.

Their efforts also earned them an extra honour, with all three selected in the New Zealand Schools team that shot in a postal match with a group of United Kingdom.

“It is the first time in my memory that three from the same team have been named to all teams,” McArthur said.

Despite it coming to the tail-end of the shooting season, McArthur, who also shoots himself and has represented the South Island and New Zealand, said the team had been putting in plenty of hours on the practice range.

“They shoot three nights a week, but there is also a lot that goes in training the mental side of it and the heart rate and physical stuff,” he said.

“It is like trying to thread a needle at the speed of sound.

“If you are off by a quarter of a centimetre that could be enough to put you in a different grade.

“It is exceptionally difficult and to do it in under pressure is really impressive.”

By Jaime Pitt-MacKay © The Ashburton Guardian - 5 October 2017

Kotiti PateaKotiti Patea. Photo supplied.A Mid Canterbury softballer has his sights set on knocking the Australian competition out of the park this time next week.

Kotiti Patea has been selected to play in the New Zealand under 15 boys’ side at the Softball New South Wales under 17 Blue Blaze tournament to be held in Sydney, and flies out on Thursday.

“I was quite shocked when I found out, I wasn’t really expecting it,” he said.

The side was selected from the South Island under 15 tournament which was held in Dunedin in January.

Having played since he was five or six, starting out with slow pitch at Netherby School, Patea has progressed to playing in the local Saturday competition.

“I like just being able to play with my friends, and the competitiveness of it,” he said.

“I haven’t really thought about it but I guess making the men’s team is a goal.”

The tournament will consist of training and warm-up games, followed by a two-day tournament on the Wednesday and Thursday.

Patea leaves early on Thursday, and will be gone for nine days.

“It is so early on Thursday,” he said.

“It is a bit exciting now, it got a bit more real when the kit turned up and seeing my name on the Facebook page and stuff.”

By Jaime Pitt-MacKay © The Ashburton Guardian - 27 September 2017