Topic: Rugby

Māori halfbacks named in NZ U20 squad

updated By Eru Paranihi

Māori halfbacks have been named in the NZ U20 squad which heads to the Oceania Tournament in Australia next month. Today, the team assembled in Auckland where they received their playing kit.

Christmas has come early for Ereatara Enari who returns to the NZ U20 squad, but this time he is the Vice-Captain.

The Te Aitanga a Mahaki and Rongowhakaata descendant says, “This is a big achievement for myself and my family. It is an honour to represent again at the level as a leader in this team.”

Kemara Hauiti-Parapara of Ngāi Tai and Ngāti Porou says, “It'll be awesome for him to step into that role. Also for me to learn a little bit off him and lift my game so I can perform better too.”

The New Zealand team failed to make the top four in last year’s World Rugby Under 20 Championship in England. Enari is keen for them to make amends this year. 

He says, “For Oceania, we hope to win all our games so that we place well in the world championships later.”

Over the years, Halfback is a position where many Māori have excelled. The All Blacks had three, and now the juniors have three.

Kemara says, “There's TJ [Perenara], Tāwera [Kerr-Barlow], Aaron Smith, they're all Māori. The three halfbacks are Māori.

For Enari, the dream is to play for the All Blacks. However, the quality halfbacks in New Zealand may result in him not realising that dream. The young man from Te Aitanga a Mahaki and Rongowhakaata has other lineage he can explore.

Ereatara says, “The second dream is to play for Samoa if I don't achieve the other one.”

The NZ U20s side will assemble for a camp in Mount Maunganui before heading out to Australia where the tournament starts on May 28th.