There is a strong Tauranga influence in the world championship-bound New Zealand junior men's water polo team.
The Kiwi side will contest the 20-team World Men's Junior Water Polo Championships in Kuwait in December and Tauranga Water Polo head coach Lionel Randal will coach the national team.
He will have the assistance of Tauranga's Dallas Couvee as the manager and Tauranga players include Nicholas Paterson, Loui Schuler and Bae Fountain.
The New Zealand team will take on Brazil, Greece, Australia and an Americas qualifier in pool play and Randal says the team has set a goal of making the quarter-finals.
"The objective is to do as well as we can, that sounds like a bit of a cop out but Greece are one of the best, Australia are always a huge challenge and Brazil have four or five players from their senior men's team," Randal says.
Randal, also the assistant coach for the New Zealand senior men's team, says water polo players have a special kind of mindset.
"It is a lot of hard work. Many of the sports you can play yourself fit. For these players they need to be in the pool up to nine times a week and swim up to 3km a day. They have wrestling and skills to work on as well. That is how the other teams are training and we have to provide them a platform to do the same. As a coach a big part of it is being prepared and trying to balance time."
Paterson is in the specialist position at centre back for the team and Randal says he is a creative player who can shoot from anywhere. Randal describes Schuler as a strong player and great distributor who brings calm attack and stability to the game.
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"It will be my first overseas experience with water polo," 17-year-old Schuler says.
"I am really excited, and to represent New Zealand will be awesome, especially at world champs. I may be a bit a bit nervous, for these under-20s games I will be the young buck.
"I am not the biggest, but defence-wise I want to make sure I hold my own against the bigger players. I want to be an annoying player."
In the back field Fountain, the current national senior goalkeeper, will provide experience on defence.
Randal says water polo is showing positive trends.
"I think the sport is in an upward swing. Look at the recent Aims Games where there were 38 teams competing. There is a massive groundswell and we are only limited by the facilities. Once we have a 50m pool [in Tauranga] we could host world champs as well."
The New Zealand team departs for Singapore on December 2 where they will be training with the Singapore men's team on their way to the world championships, which begin on December 12.
New Zealand team for World Men's Junior Water Polo Championships:
Rowan Brown, (North Harbour); James Catlin, (North Harbour); Louis Clark, (Canterbury); Calum De Jager, (Marist); Joshua De Reeper, (Hutt); Louie Ferigo, (Marist); Bae Fountain, (Tauranga); Brandon Matthews, (North Harbour); Matthew Morris, (North Harbour); Nicholas Paterson, (Tauranga); Sam Ratima, (Waitakere); Loui Schuler, (Tauranga); Hamish Sullivan, (Canterbury).
Head coach: Lionel Randall.
Assistant coach: Thomas Jones.
Manager: Dallas Couvee.