Young Touch Blacks to defend World Title in Malaysia

By James Perry

The Touch Youth World Cup is set to take place in Malaysia next month. New Zealand is are sending six teams, and all have gathered at Kings College to prepare for the tournament.

The tournament has been dormant for 13 years, but next month some of the best U18s and U20s Mens, Womens and Mixed teams will battle it out in Malaysia.

Hika Pene, who is helping the coaches prepare their teams says it is left up the Federation of International Touch to make the decisions as to why the tournament was left alone for 13 years. They have made the decision to revive the tournament, and have asked Malaysia, who will be hosting the senior World Cup next year to host the Youth World Cup as well. 

One major difference according to Pene, is it's winter here, and Malaysia will be a lot hotter. It will be the middle of summer in South East Asia by the time the tournament begins in August, and temperatures are expected to reach 30 degrees.

Women's U18 coach Leana Te Ohaere-Fox says, "it's really hard to prepare if I'm honest. We can say to them to wear their thermals, go to the sauna, train in indoor facilities where you can. But it will be a culture shock." Not only will the temperature be dramatically different, but for some of these players, it will be the first time they have been to Asia.

The teams will benefit however from the experience some of the players will have gained from being part of the Open teams in the recent Trans Tasman series, like U20s men's member Tarkyn Loloselo. Loloselo it will be "the mongrel, and the desire to win" that he will be hoping to pass on most to his peers. Te Ohaere Fox who has 4 girls who fit this category in her squad says it is the leadership skills, on and off the field that she has seen most, saying "in that Touch Blacks environment they're the babies almost, But here the roles are switched and they're our leaders and you can really see that stand out."

Interestingly enough New Zealand won the last tournament in 2005, meaning they head to Malaysia as defending champions. Te Ohaere-Fox says they don't want to take the trophy to Malaysia and leave it there for someone else to pick up.

The Youth World Cup takes place in Kuala Lumpur from the 8th to the 11th of August.