“BehindNAmeRotorua”

At just 25, Shaquille Stone has been able to attend three Touch World Cups - a feat that many in his sport do not get the chance to experience at all. This week, as part of our Behind the Name feature we find out more about Stone, a touch player who represents New Zealand in the Touch Blacks Men's team and the NZ Warriors Men's Touch Team. This feature focuses on the Bay of Plenty's talented athletes representing New Zealand internationally beyond their impressive career and today, Stone tells us which athlete he looks up to most and what advice he would give to his 16-year-old self today.

Do you have any nicknames and how did you get the name?
Shaq short for Shaquille and Shwak. When I was younger I had a best whack/side step and they (friends/team mates) put that and Shaq together, which created Shwak.

What is the first memory you have of touch and how has that had an impact on you in your life?
Attending touch tournaments when I was a young fella, following my parents and older siblings. That has had a huge impact on how much I love the sport - being brought up in and around it from a young age, it's just a way of life.

What is your sporting highlight to date and why?
Quite a few that stand out. Being named in my very first New Zealand Men's team, debuting alongside my older brother, winning the annual Whakatāne Touch Tournament with my Lock-N Touch Club and then finally being named in the very first Warriors Men's Touch Team.

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What has been the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you while competing at any level?
Scoring on the 5m line instead of the try line.

What is the best advice you have been given when it comes to touch and who gave it to you?
My mother always said to me no matter the result, if you always give it your all, that's all that matters.

What tips do you have for anyone getting into your sport?
The more work done off the field, the easier the work on the field becomes.

If you weren't playing touch what would you be doing?
Playing rugby or continuing with my studies.

When you're not competing or training, what are you doing?
Spending time with my kids, family and friends.

Who is your favourite athlete in any code and level, and why?
Sonny Bill Williams - I look up to his professionalism and the way he holds himself as a athlete.

What was your very first job and what other jobs have you held?
A hangi prep assistant at Mitai Maori Village while I was still at school, personal trainer and admin at Blaze Fitness Gym.

What is something you would tell your 16-year-old self?
To stretch and look after my body better to give it the best chance possible at being at optimal performance level for longer.

What has been your biggest personal achievement and why?
Attending three Touch World Cups at my age, as not a lot of people get to attend one let alone three. Therefore I hold that very close to my heart and it is special and I am very grateful.

What five words do you think your closest friends would use to describe you?
Cheeky, confident, giving, hard-working and diligent.