11 Māori rugby players have been selected for the New Zealand U20 squad. The squad is currently in training camp in Auckland preparing for the Oceania Tournament in Australia next week.
For one player, it's shaping up to be one of life's ultimate experiences.
Ereatara Enari of Te Aitanga a Mahaki and Rongowhakaata has gone from Waihīrere to national rugby acclaim.
He says, “From Waihirere, all my family is there. Like to get back to the pā as much as I can.”
He's the newest Māori face in the New Zealand U20 rugby side.
For this cowboy of the East Coast, he wouldn't be where he is without one important factor.
“It's quite good for my whānau, some good support coming out of there. My nan back in Gizzy, quite good to do it for her and all my cuzzys in Gizzy too.”
There are some big Māori names to chase who have come out of this team.
“I went to school with Otere Black for a year, played with Rieko back in 2014 and they’re all quite young boys so it's good to see them kicking on quite early,” says Enari.
They're both alumni from the same school, Manawatū's Tū Toa.
Sean Paranihi says, “Pretty special for us two boys coming out of the same school from Manawatu so nah they will be quite proud.”
The side will face their Trans-Tasman counterparts twice next week.
Up for grabs are spots in the World Rugby U20 Championship, which will be held in Manchester, England, in June.
Paranihi says, “Just play well and do the 100 percenters right, and hopefully get to go over to England.”
The side will take on the Blues Development team tomorrow, a welcomed hit out before the Oceania Tournament.
Enari says, “Feeling pretty excited just opportunity to put my best foot forward as with all the boys and just guess earn a spot in the world cup.”
The side flies out to Australia on Friday.