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Ania Ballantine will represent New Zealand in touch rugby for the first time in May. Photo: HUHU IMAGES

Ania selected for national touch squad

Ania Ballantine was “really excited” when she received the call to represent her country in a sport she’s competed in since her childhood.
The 18-year-old, who graduated from Hauraki Plains College [HPC] last year, told The Profile she qualified for the under 18 New Zealand Mixed (male and female) Touch Team in November and will don the singlet for the first time in May.
“I was really excited to be honest, we had trials [at King’s College in Auckland in mid-October] beforehand and to even get the call to go to the actual trials was surreal,” she said.
“We had one training camp at King’s College a couple of weeks back and we have another one in March at Western Springs, and then we fly off in May to Brisbane for the [Asia Pacific Youth Touch Cup].”
Ania, who is also about to kick off her commerce degree at the University of Canterbury, said she’d competed in touch rugby since she was around eight-years-old, representing Thames Valley.
“I played for HPC senior mixed teams and junior girls teams and I played for Thames Valley mixed teams from under nines through to under 16s,” she said.
“In 2021, our Thames Valley under 16 mixed touch team came second at nationals [in Auckland] and our Thames Valley open mixed team came second at nationals [in Christchurch] as well, that was pretty huge.”

Ania, who also competed for Thames Valley in rugby union, basketball and netball, said training accelerated her morale.
“A lot of hard work and consistency, keeping up with fitness, keeping up with ball skills, not just at the regular team trainings but on your own as well, that’s really important to getting above the rest.”
Ania said training with her sisters Savaan and Tiare, who have competed in touch rugby for Waikato, also inspired her to aim high.
Ania said she hoped being part of a national squad would enable her to gain more experience and connect with other New Zealand and international touch players.