Kamo Intermediate's Johnny Halton was the surprise star at the Ruawai Rosebowl Tournament.

The 13-year-old was partnered with Neville King and together they picked up consistent wins.

Each year the Northland Croquet Association holds the Ruawai Rosebowls Handicapped Doubles competition involving 20 teams with a senior player on a low handicap and a junior player on a high handicap.

Handicaps range from a low of -6 up to a high of +16. The teams were from the seven clubs throughout Northland, from Kaitaia to Waipu.


Halton and King picked up four wins in their section before taking out their semifinal and final, a big accomplishment from the youngster.

Regional coach George Smith was so impressed, he immediately contacted national development coach Greg Bryant to have the teen included in the national youth training programme.

Croquet appears to be breathing new life into its ranks with the appearance of young players taking to the croquet courts. The Kerikeri, Kaitaia and Whangarei clubs are leading the way.

Also present was the 2017 Northland secondary champion, 15-year-old Cameron Hansford from the Kaitaia club. He is also a member of the Kaitaia College First XV and junior and senior basketball teams.

He attended the NZ Secondary Schools Croquet Champs along with outstanding basketballer Cade Sentch, who is one of the top three-point shooters in Northland schools.

Smith believes that if he is such a sharp shooter from beyond the arc, he will make "running the hoops" look easy.

Kerikeri High School had six students attend the NZ champs as part of the Northland team. Nathan Gibson and Sophie Fox have joined the Kerikeri club. They performed well in the Plate knockout round. They were also joined by Mathew Gailbrath, Ben Turner, Max Hart and Luke Halligan.

All the young players have been invited to attend NZ youth development training in Christchurch and then to compete in the NZ under-21 national championships directly afterwards. The goal is to produce top class players to perform nationally and internationally in open and age group tournaments.