For the first time in 13 years the Federation of International Touch is holding a Youth World Cup, and two Rotorua teens will be there.

Rotorua Boys' High School's Jordan Tuakana-Hudson, 17, and Rotorua Girls' High School's Kahlia Kiel, 17, are in the Under-18 New Zealand Mixed team for the tournament in Malaysia this weekend.

When the tournament was last held in 2005, New Zealand and Australia were crowned joint winners.

New Zealand took a strong contingent to that tournament, which included Black Ferns Sevens World Cup winner Niall Williams, Manly Sea Eagles utility Lewis Brown and current Touch Black, Rotorua's own Maurice Stone.


This year Touch NZ is sending six teams made up of boys, girls, and mixed players in the under-18, and under-20 divisions.

Kuala Lumpur will be hot and humid, with temperatures expected to reach as high as 35 degrees.

Taman Ekuestrian Putrajaya Park – the venue for the tournament - is a long way from the greener fields, cooler temperatures, and softer grounds of New Zealand. The Kiwis will have their work cut out for them.

Jordan said the team had a training camp during the last school holidays and he was confident they could play well in the tournament.

"I reckon we could win it. We'll need to work together and stick down the right end of the field."

He has represented New Zealand at touch in the past, as well as playing sevens for the Cook Islands at the Oceania Rugby Under-18 Sevens Championship, but going all the way to Malaysia would be a whole new experience.

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"This is probably the biggest trip I've been on so far. The country and the size of the tournament, there are different countries coming over and you don't know what they're going to bring.

"We won't have many trainings once we get there, because you're not allowed to use the playing fields to train."

Kahlia said putting on the black singlet was always a priviledge.

"I'm just looking forward to playing and playing in a different country. We've played in Australia but never somewhere like Malaysia. It will be hot as and the humidity is real bad, we've got health and safety stuff we have to do about staying hydrated."

She started playing touch as a 10-year-old when she 'accidentally' made a representative team.

"My friend went to the Bay of Plenty under-11 girls' trials and I just ended up trialling. I hadn't played before, but I made the team."

She has been playing ever since and said what she enjoyed most was being part of a team, although she was also a very competitive person.

"Just being in a team and working together. The goal in Malaysia is to win and beat Australia. We play South Africa as well.

"We need to trust each other and each person play their role right. Trust that each person will do their job. I prefer playing mixed, I think I work harder because I want to prove boys aren't always better girls."

Touch NZ chief executive Joe Sprangers said the Youth World Cup was a "special opportunity".

"The youth teams are all about providing an opportunity to compete against the best players in the world in their age groups but equally about providing a seamless pathway to the Touch Blacks, our elite teams.

"The board and management of Touch NZ wish all the athletes, coaches, managers and support staff all the best. We have no doubt they will do their whānau, sport, and New Zealand proud, and we wish them all the best as they strive to become Youth World Cup of Touch champions."