Topic: Touch Rugby

Queensland touch sides kick off NZ tour

By Raniera Harrison

The Queensland touch sides have arrived in New Zealand from across the Tasman to take on five sides from around the country.  In the war party who has arrived, is one Māori player looking to make an impression at home.

Preparing for battle, an enthusiastic delegation from Queensland has arrived in Auckland.

Darnell Bennett (Ngāti Maniapoto) says, "Experience and tips and tricks from New Zealand players, refs and all that type of stuff."

16-year-old Bennett wants to gain a lot from the experience.  He's the only Māori in the Queensland Touch team touring New Zealand this week.

This head-to-head bout with their Auckland counterparts ended with 12-9 win for the visitors.

Bennett says, "They were a bit physical eh, but all the Aussie boys we're getting a bit pushed over, just got to tell them to man up and make the touches in front."

Several NRL clubs were interested in the promising young player before injury struck at the beginning of last year.

"My left knee, I tore my ACL playing league, so that just got me out of the sport, sporting type of stuff for about six months, and I just recovered from that just done some exercises," says Bennett.

Family support has got him to where he is today.  The family is enjoying being part of the journey.

Aunty Rowan Paul says, "For me it's been really awesome, because we see a lot on Facebook but we don't get to see a lot in person so seeing him carve up has been pretty awesome.  Proud as!"

These off-field aspects keep players passionate for the sport.  

"I like to say thanks to my whānau for coming up here and mum and dad back in Australia on the Gold Coast, just helping me get to where I am now. Just paying for all my bills and all that type of stuff," says Bennett.

The side take on Waikato tonight, before this Māori boy returns to what he calls his second home on the Gold Coast at the end of the week.

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