Amelia Wade is a court reporter for the New Zealand Herald

Shaq's big boot problem sorted

Shaquille Ioane will have a choice between two pairs of  boots. Photo / Christine Cornege
Shaquille Ioane will have a choice between two pairs of boots. Photo / Christine Cornege

After hearing of Shaquille Ioane's super-size feet, All Black Luke Romano has stepped in to offer his own tailormade boots to the aspiring rugby player.

The 1.99m-tall lock measured his 32cm feet after reading about the 18-year-old's plight in yesterday's Herald.

Shaq, who plays lock for Kawerau College's 1st XV, has been hampered on the field by his inability to find boots in a size 18 - about 31cm.

He has been playing in sneakers, but slips on wet grass.

The teenager, who was named after American basketballer Shaquille O'Neal, has been inundated with tips and ideas about where he might be find some boots that fit.

Romano said he would hand over the boots he has worn during the Ireland test series after Saturday's third and final match in Hamilton.

"Hopefully we can meet up on Sunday some time. I'm sure I can give him a few tips about playing."

The 26-year-old already has two new pairs on the way.

His footwear is made for him by adidas in Germany.

Shaq will also receive a second pair of size 18 boots - which also belonged to a promising young athlete.

The boots are being couriered from Wellington by former Scots College 1st XV coach Dave Meaclem, who bought them for rising basketball star Steven Adams.

"We wanted to get him to try rugby, nick him from basketball, so we tracked him down some boots," Mr Meaclem said.

Shaq's new shoes have not even been worn.

"[Adams] came down because we used to hassle him about coming down and trying rugby. We told him, 'You reckon you're a basketball star, mate, you're not a star until you play rugby,"' Mr Meaclem said.

"So he came down and found it pretty cool, pretty exciting but then of course all of his minders said, 'Oh, nah, nah, nah - he can't play rugby.' So we were left with this pair of size 18 boots that we'd got him, unworn."

Adams' basketball career has taken off and he is tipped to make a US National Basketball Association team.

This year, the 2.15m brother of shot put star Valerie Adams, left New Zealand to play for the University of Pittsburgh.

His feet are about the same size as Shaq's.

Mr Meaclem rang Kawerau College yesterday morning to let them know he would be sending the boots.

Shaq's mother, Adele Kameta, said she really hoped Mr Meaclem's shoes fitted but would wait and see because her son had very high insoles.

"But hopefully, hopefully they do fit him, that would be great," she said yesterday.

Shaq himself was very pleased he might soon have some new boots.

"That'd be cool," he said.

Shaq has only started playing rugby this year.

At the moment, he is playing in sneakers he gets from a specialist shop in Otahuhu.

His grandmother Lynn Kameta often makes trips to Auckland, Whakatane and Rotorua in search of shoes for her eldest grandson.

She said she had spent thousands on shoes for him.

- NZ Herald

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