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Rotuman Sports

From Fiji Times Online (21 April 2013)

Khan's solid as a rock

Indian Weekender

AUCKLANDER Rocky Khan has created history by becoming the first player of Fiji Indian origin to don the black jersey.

Khan, 23, has been part of the New Zealand sevens squad on the HSBC IRB Sevens World Series since making his debut in Wellington in February.

He is believed to be the first Fijian of Indian ancestry and also the first Rotuman to represent New Zealand in 7s.

"I feel very excited and very privileged to be part of this environment which has seen so many great names come through it," an excited Khan said.

Khan was born in Auckland, and attended Edendale Primary School, Balmoral Intermediate, and Mount Albert Grammar School.

He started playing junior rugby at the age of six for the Eden Rugby Club.

"Born the only child, I watched a lot of rugby on television which got me interested and with it being the national sport in New Zealand I started playing," he said.

"I love playing the game because of the people you meet, the friendships you make and also the experiences you have," he said.

Khan played a lot of rugby during his school days representing the Mount Albert Grammar School (MAGS) under 15s, Mount Albert Grammar first XV and the Auckland rugby age group teams.

Connecting with Auckland's growing Asian population is one of the New Zealand Rugby Union's main goals for the next three years.

Revealing the organisation's hope of broadening its horizons, chief executive Steve Tew said its future depended on it.

Asked if he would like to see an Asian represent the All Blacks, Tew replied: "We've got an Indian-Fijian (Khan) playing in the All Blacks Sevens. He's certainly the first person with any Asian ethnicity playing in the black jersey as far as I know."

"We cannot be relevant in Auckland or New Zealand unless we accept the fact that there's an increasing Asian influence in our population, so we need Asian people to want to play, coach, administer, watch and 'wear' our game.

"If we don't get that right then some time in the future we'll be irrelevant."

Ensuring rugby was the sport of choice in wider Auckland was No4 in a six-point plan for the NZRU, which has rebranded itself for "everyday" use as New Zealand Rugby. The change had coincided with the organisation's move to new offices in Wellington and was seen as less "stuffy" according to research, Tew said.

Khan played a lot of rugby during his school days representing the Mount Albert Grammar School (MAGS) under 15s, Mount Albert Grammar 1st 15 and the Auckland rugby age group teams.

He has also played for the Auckland Mens 7s, the Grammar Carlton Rugby club and currently plays for the Ponsonby Rugby Club. He is studying sport and recreation at Auckland University of Technology and works part time for Touch NZ as a development officer and says that Wellington was the dream tournament to make his debut.

In fact, he is no stranger to the tournament, having spent the past two years in the stands. "I guess growing up in New Zealand you always dream of playing for the All Blacks, this may not be the All Blacks 15s team, but playing for the All Blacks 7s team is a great honour in itself."