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Ng Shiu making strides on the sevens stage

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Libby Boggs     01 Mar 2019     Getty Images

The 24-year-old made his All Blacks Sevens debut in Wellington in 2017 and has gone on to accrue 14 World Series caps but it’s the last 12 months that he has began to make his mark.

Ng Shiu, originally from Auckland, has taken a less than traditional route to professional rugby.

Schooled at Botany Downs Secondary College in Auckland’s east, Ng Shiu said rugby was simply a way to spend time with mates.

“It was just for fun really, it wasn’t until my last year at school that some of the boys wanted to get a bit more serious, we were doing extras after school to get fitter and stuff like that.

Ng Shiu was accepted to study Art and Design at the prestigious Whitecliffe College and started club rugby at Pakuranga United, under the tutelage of coach, former All Black Pita Alatini.

“Pita was a big influence, the culture we had in the team was great and there were a lot of experienced players, it was all a great learning experience.”

It was one of those senior players, Manu Samoa halfback Dwayne Polataivao that took Ng Shiu under his wing and in 2014 the pair moved to Nelson with their eye on professional rugby in Tasman.

“We wanted to have a crack. We were in the wider training squad for Tasman and I got involved in the sevens team too.

“We sort of started from the bottom with sevens and the more we enjoyed it and got into it we went up the ranks.”
It was at the 2017 Nationals that everything changed for Ng Shiu. Tasman made the top eight, his teammate Andrew Knewstubb was named Player of the Tournament and at the end of the weekend he was shoulder tapped to join the All Blacks Sevens.

“It’s hard to describe. I had no idea they were looking at me and when I found out all I wanted to do was tell my family, that was all I could think about.

“It was pretty cool that Stubby and Trael (Joass) were selected too, to be able to share the experience with them.”

It was only weeks later that Ng Shiu was donning a black jersey and running out at Westpac Stadium for the Wellington Sevens.

“I just remember being nervous, really nervous. I had lots of family in the crowd and my first game I came off the bench against Samoa. The memories are just the nerves but also excitement.

After the debut, Ng Shiu recalls the 2018 Hong Kong Sevens as another highlight, where he was named to co-captain a young team alongside Rocky Khan.

With the majority of the squad in Australia preparing for the Commonwealth Games, Ng Shiu said leading out the team was something he will never forget.
“Hong Kong is the biggest tournament on the Series, we had heaps of debutants in the team and ended up fourth. Captaining with Rocky next to me was definitely a proud moment.”

Ng Shiu believes something changed in Hong Kong.

“I think it’s a confidence thing and that started in Hong Kong. I had to lead from the front and since then every opportunity I get I try to lead with my actions.

All Blacks Sevens Coach Clark Laidlaw echos Ng Shiu’s assessment that Hong Kong was a game changing tournament for the young forward.

“He’s been in the environment for a while and he now understands what it means to be a professional rugby player. You can see that he has more confidence and understands his point of difference in the game.

“He is reaping the benefits of his pre season, understanding how to prepare has made a massive difference in his game and we are seeing that consistently.”

For now, Ng Shiu is preparing for the next two tournaments on the World Series but admits next year’s Olympics are at the back of the mind.

“It’s hard not to think about the Olympics, it’s a big goal. But before then I am just focusing on making every team and doing my best at each tournament.

“Our leadership group have high expectations on everything we do, whether training or on the field we need to perform at our best and that is what I am focusing on.”