Black Sox outfielder Jerome Haretuku has returned to play for the squad after a four-year absence from the game. The re-selection is a coup for New Zealand who play Australia, Argentina, Japan, the Czech Republic and Samoa in the TAB Challenge Cup.
Haretuku took time out to study and last played for the Black Sox in 2013 at the World Championships. Despite the length of time, it's as though the outfielder never left.
“Game hasn't changed too much, it’s always been at that level, it's fast. Just making contact and speed,” says Haretuku.
In those four years, Haretuku took the opportunity to further his education both here in New Zealand, and overseas.
“I did Bachelor of Sport and Recreation and exercise science at AUT. I did an exchange study at the German Sports University in Cologne.”
Many of his teammates who were around when Haretuku last played are looking forward to seeing him back in black, but none more so than Black Sox captain Thomas Enoka
“You know he brings his sort of flavour back into this team. He's played with some of the fellas who have been and gone. He has a little bit of a legacy that he knows about. It'll be good for him this week just to teach these fellas around. Him, as well as push himself to be in this World Series. I'm excited for him to be out there.”
There’s often a thought that a lack of game time could be detrimental to physical fitness, there are benefits to having the time away from the game.
Haretuku says, “[I’m feeling] mentally quite fresh. A few years away out of the environment, I've had a chance to sort of go away and do a bit of study and come back and get into softball."
The true test for Haretuku will come when the Black Sox play their first match against Japan.