Black Sox captain Nathan Nukunuku bites back at Mark Richardson

News 28/03/2019

World champion Black Sox softball captain Nathan Nukunuku stared down AM Show sports host Mark Richardson, insisting the road to professional baseball riches was not as easy as it sounded.

On Wednesday, Richardson, a former Blackcaps cricketer, urged New Zealand to give up its "infatuation" with softball, and channel that talent and resources into grooming players for lucrative US Major League Baseball careers.

The Black Sox have won seven men's world softball titles - more than any other country and more world titles than any other New Zealand sporting team - and will attempt to defend their crown in May in the Czech Republic.

But Nukunuku, who will attend his seventh global tournament, denied he could have been a very rich man by now, if he had pursued baseball instead.

"No, I don't believe so," he told The AM Show on Thursday. "I think you used the analogy of Steven Adams.

"We've got pro-league basketball in New Zealand and I'm sure you've seen how many guys have made it into the NBA from that - the answer is three.

"The evidence is there that you can't just put it there and go down that path, and it will happen."

Nukunuku claimed the two sports could co-exist alongside each other, but conceded the national bodies had some work to do before that was achieved.

"Softball has no ill will towards baseball," he said. "We want to succeed in our sport and I don't think you need to kill one sport to prop up another one.

"Softball is engrained in New Zealand. We've got the club structure and 30,000 people involved."

Nukunuku said Richardson's comments had been misinterpreted by the softball community, but agreed with an email from former NZ softball international Kevin Richardson (no relation), describing the former cricketing batsman as "a dick".

"He did confirm that yesterday," said Nukunuku.