From All Black to MC Hammer
Rugby has taken 36-year-old Regan King around the world, but it took a move to Mid Canterbury for the former All Black to finally get his hands on some silverware.
King, a former Chiefs player and one-test All Black who has spent the past 13 years plying his trade in Europe, has been quietly working his magic in the Southern backline in recent weeks, and just 10 days ago helped them to a win in Mid Canterbury Rugby’s Watters Cup final. Now he’s hoping to keep that winning feeling going, by helping Mid Canterbury to what would be a historic win on Friday.
King has been named in the Mid Canterbury squad for Friday’s Ranfurly Shield challenge against Canterbury in Ashburton, and for the upcoming Heartland Championship, as he nears the end of a stellar career.
King played one test for the All Blacks, against Wales in November 2002, before getting injured and undergoing surgery to have his pelvis fused.
‘‘It was either have the operation or sit tight and see if it came right itself, which could take one month or 10 years, they just didn’t know,’’ King said.
After a lengthy break he headed offshore and played in France, before moving to Wales to play for the Llanelli Scarlets, where he played alongside current Mid Canterbury co-coach Craig Dunlea. The two became fast friends and stayed in touch over the years.
King was playing for an English club in Jersey, in the Channel Islands, when family drew him back to New Zealand in December. He wasn’t sure what to do next. A move to Hong Kong was on the cards, but it wasn’t for him.
‘‘When I came back I spoke with Dunners (Dunlea) and was just looking at doing a bit of training and stuff, and he ended up getting me down here and placed me at Southern. Obviously, I’m a bit older and hadn’t played for a few months, but he asked me if I would consider playing for Mid Canterbury,’’ King said.
His old club in his home town of Cambridge wanted him too, but King was nervous.
‘‘I left as an All Black and I have been away for 13 years. It’d probably been 15 years since I had played a game in New Zealand.’’
He felt people would expect him to pick up where he left off, and still play like an All Black. So he decided to give Mid Canterbury a shot, where he could just be another player.
‘‘I hadn’t played for seven months when I got here and wasn’t sure if I would offer anything,’’ King said.
He successfully flew under the radar initially. His team mates knew who he was – although King joked many of them were probably still in nappies when he was an All Black – but to most on the sideline he was just an unfamiliar face.
He’s not here to stay. After this season King’s off to America, where he’s signed on with a club in Texas for the next three years, in a player/coach role. Coaching is where he sees his future.
Despite his long career, King has only played in one Ranfurly Shield challenge. It was for Waikato, against holders Canterbury, and they didn’t win. In fact, despite having played in numerous matches with silverware on the line, the Watters Cup win with Southern was the first final he’d played in, and won.
The win made history for King, and on Friday he’s hoping he and his new Hammers team mates will be able to make history for Mid Canterbury by taking the Ranfurly Shield off Canterbury.
Former All Black Regan King has been named in the Mid Canterbury team after turning out for Southern this season.