A YOUTH Olympic volleyball player from Rotorua has switched codes to try and make a future in AFL.
Kahurangi Robinson, 18, was one of the stars of the Western Heights High School senior A volleyball team last year, helping the school win a national title.
He also represented the country at the Youth Olympic Games in 2014, in beach volleyball, where he finished 17th overall alongside playing partner Nate Moore (Tauranga).
This year Robinson has decided to jump codes and give AFL a crack, turning down multiple scholarships to head to the United States and continue with volleyball.
He has joined the Southern Saints – one of four teams competing in the inaugural AFL New Zealand Premiership which started last weekend in Auckland.
He played a full game at ruckman, in the middle of the field, during the opening round helping his team come out on top 62-50 against the Central Giants.
“It was my first game of AFL. I haven’t played before because beach volleyball got in the way,” he said. “But it went well. I got a mention for top in my position, which was the ruckman, and the coaches were pleased.”
He said his goal in the sport was to make the men’s national team, the New Zealand Hawks, later this year.
“This competition is a new concept. There is four teams and after a nine-game season they will pick a New Zealand team to play a few Aussie teams,” he said.
“My main goal is to make that New Zealand team and try and get scouted if I’m lucky enough with the Aussie scouts.”
He said he was surprised with how fit you needed to be to play the sport.
“It is quite fun, there is a lot of running around … I probably lacked a bit of fitness though I didn’t realise it was that tiring.”
Robinson explained he was first introduced to the sport a couple of years ago, after an AFL New Zealand scout noticed him playing volleyball at school and took him, and two others from Western Heights, to Wellington for a trial programme. He said he had been so tied up with volleyball in recent years he hadn’t had time to play Aussie Rules until this year.
Rotorua’s William Warbrick is another local in the premiership this season, and won the rising star award with his performance for the Western Crows in round one.
Story by Gary Hamilton-Irvine – Rotorua Daily Post