Touch player to make NZ debut

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Ben Anderson’s taste of top level basketball may have helped propel him into the New Zealand mixed touch team.

The recently-graduated Nelson College student was last week selected to debut for the New Zealand open mixed touch team to take on Australia in April.

The selection is the latest in a string of sporting successes for the 18-year-old.

Last year, he made the Nelson Giants basketball squad and ended the season with six minutes of court time, as well as making the New Zealand under-17 and under-21 touch teams.

He says it’s been a “crazy” 18 months.

“If you had told me a year and a half ago that I would have made these teams… I’d be so stoked,” he says.

Ben says his two chosen sports complement each other and have helped improve his game in both sports.

“[Basketball] skills, like short explosive speed, is good for touch, as well as ball-handling skills and vision. I’ve also had to use my jumping from basketball from time to time on the touch field.”

The selection to the New Zealand open mixed touch team came after a training camp in Auckland late last month.

It is the first time he’s made an open team after previously representing New Zealand at under-17 and under-21 level.

He will be joined in the team by fellow Nelsonian Nicole Drummond, who made her debut last summer.

Ben says his father Wayne – a fellow NZ touch representative – has been a huge influence on him as a touch player and helped train him over the years.

When Ben was told that he’d been selected at the training camp, he says he wanted to let his dad know, but he had no credit on his phone.

“I had to wait until I got to the airport where there was free wifi and send him a message on Facebook. He was pretty happy.”

Ben is heading to Christchurch next week to begin university studies, where he will train to become an engineer. He hopes to play for the Canterbury Rams in the National Basketball League and carry on with his touch training. “I love both sports, if I had to choose one I couldn’t, and thankfully they haven’t crossed over too much so I can do both.”

New Zealand will host the trans-Tasman touch series this April in Auckland.