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Waaka set to play for Bay

RUGBY by Grant Miller

THE last time Beaudein Waaka played rugby for Poverty Bay, he was still at school.

Since then, he has played sevens for New Zealand, had several seasons with Taranaki and played semi-professional club rugby in Sydney.

Waaka, 25, is poised to wear the scarlet jersey again when Poverty Bay play Wairarapa Bush at Masterton on Saturday, subject to his clearance from officials coming through in time.

He is pencilled in at fullback.

Waaka has some memory of his first outing for Poverty Bay, which was a Lochore Cup semifinal against Buller in 2012.

It was nerve-racking but he soon found his feet.

“I think I even scored a try on debut. It was an enjoyable game to play in.”

Poverty Bay lost the match 42-22 but Waaka did indeed score a try.

Waaka had three years in the first 15 at Gisborne Boys’ High School and his old coach, Tom Cairns, is now coaching the Poverty Bay representative side.

Waaka said that during his last year at school he stayed at Cairns’s house and the coach offered him the room again this year.

The Cairns clan got in touch with him while he was in Sydney, where he was playing for Manly.

It is not the first time that phone calls between New Zealand and Australia have figured in his personal history.

Waaka and his younger sister Stacey grew up in Melbourne but when the children visited New Zealand one Christmas, they declared over the phone to their parents that they wanted to stay.

That was in 2004. The children lived with their grandparents for a while and their parents joined them the following year.

Stacey Waaka went on to represent New Zealand in sevens as well.

Their father, Simon Waaka, played against the All Blacks. He was picked to play at halfback for a Victoria Invitation 15 in 1992.

In 2011, Beaudein Waaka was part of the Gisborne Boys’ High School team who secured a maiden Super 8 title.

He earned a place in the New Zealand Secondary Schools team the next year.

Just a year out of high school, the 19-year-old got the nod to start at first five-eighth in Taranaki’s opening NPC match against Canterbury in 2013.

His time with Taranaki finished up last year.

Waaka said that, growing up, his preferred position was first-five. He has also played at centre and fullback.

He told the Poverty Bay coaches he was happy to play anywhere in the backline. After talking with them, he was named at fullback.

Waaka said he enjoyed his time on the international sevens circuit, after making his debut for New Zealand in 2015.

“The best thing is it’s all paid for. I got to travel the world free of charge.”

And now he is pleased to be home, where he can see his mates again.

Saturday’s match between Contract Consultants Poverty Bay and Wairarapa Bush kicks off in Masterton at 2.30pm.

Beaudein Waaka