From All Black to MC Ham­mer

Selwyn and Ashburton Outlook - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - ERIN TASKER

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.

ERIN TASKER/STUFF

For­mer All Black Re­gan King has been named in the Mid Can­ter­bury team af­ter turn­ing out for South­ern this sea­son.

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