Opposing teams wanting to end the Aotearoa Māori Secondary Schools side's domination of the International Under-19 Schools Challenge tournament will be fresh out of luck if they rely on footage of last year's tournament.

Particularly footage of versatile Hastings Girls' High School player Asher Grapes. Last year Grapes played goal attack for the side which won the tournament with 10 wins from as many games in Suva. At next week's 10-team tournament on the Gold Coast 17-year-old Year 13 student Grapes will play as a midcourter.

"I've made the switch because the various coaches I've worked with believe my long-term future in the code will be better in the centre or wing attack positions. Wing attack is similar to goal shoot apart from not shooting and I've had to adjust more for the centre role," Grapes explained.

Grapes and Havelock North High School goal shoot Imke Kitchin were both selected in the Aotearoa side after some outstanding performances for the Ikaroa team which finished fourth in the under-19 grade at the 31st national Maori tournament in Gisborne during Easter.


"Retaining our title will definitely be the plan next week," Grapes said.

She is one of two players returning from last year's side. Taranaki's Parris Mason, who has also represented New Zealand in basketball and touch is the other.

Grapes is heading to Waikato University next year to start a three-year Health Sport and Human Performance course. She hopes some polished displays next week will enhance her chances of securing a Beko League spot in the near future.

"Jaydi is already at that level and in Waikato so hopefully I can follow her path," Grapes said referring to former Napier Girls' High School student Jaydi Taylor-Chaffey who was in the Aotearoa side last year.

Grapes HGHS team has lost all three of their games to date in the Bay's Super 8 premier club competition but has improved with each outing and last week lost by 11 to unbeaten pool leaders Otane.

The 1.93m Kitchin, who was selected for Netball New Zealand's talent identification programme "Hunt for Height" is looking forward to her first taste of international play.

"Now I'm in the Aotearoa side the aim is to crack a regular starting spot," Kitchin said.

"All the shooters are incredible and the competition will be tough. Whoever gets the starting spots will be very deserving."


Like Grapes, Kitchin, is in her second year in the Hawke's Bay under-17 team. They were teammates in the Hawke's Bay under-15 side in 2016.

Kitchin's Jamie Richardson-coached Havelock North High School team has won all four of their matches to date in the Hawke's Bay Secondary Schools premier grade. Kitchin also plays for the Charissa Barham-coached All In in the Super 8 and they have recorded one win from three outings.

She will head to Victoria University of Wellington next year to study law and commerce. Like Grapes, Kitchin, hopes to end up in the Beko League.

One of the country's most promising rowers a couple of summers back, Kitchin, decided to leave the rowing scene at the end of 2016.

"It was a tough decision to make but one which I had to, give netball the time it deserved."

During the 2016 Maadi Cup regatta in Twizel set a world record for the 100m on the ergometer. Her time of 17s bettered the previous record by 1.2s.

Two hours later she set a national 2km record of 7m18s which was 18s better than the previous record.

Grapes and Kitchin travel to Auckland today to prepare for a training camp with the Aotearoa side which will be coached by Invercargill's Jess Huia. The team will travel to the Gold Coast on the weekend for the tournament which will use the same netball venue as the Commonwealth Games.

Aotearoa open their campaign with matches against South Africa and host team the Australian Aborigine on Monday. Tuesday will see Aotearoa take on Fiji and the Pacific Rim.

On Wednesday Huia's troops will meet the New Zealand Fijians, Australia and the Auckland Samoans.

On Thursday Aotearoa will play Malaysia and Auckland Tongans. The final will be played on Friday.