Natua makes the Ferns

South Waikato News - - FRONT PAGE - By PET­RICE TAR­RANT

Child­hood dreams of pulling on black jer­seys to­gether are com­ing true for Toka Natua and Chelsea Al­ley.

The Toko­roa born and bred rugby play­ers have been named in the Black Ferns tour­ing squad, along­side Pu­taruru’s Honey Hireme who is fresh from her ex­ploits with the world se­rieswin­ning New Zealand Women’s Sev­ens side.

Un­like for Hireme and Al­ley, the June/July tour of Canada will be 23-year-old Natua’s de­but on the in­ter­na­tional field.

The suc­cess is par­tic­u­larly spe­cial for the 97kg new­ly­de­vel­oped prop who re­called her first game for South­ern United with Al­ley right there be­side her.

‘‘The funny thing is, Chelsea and I, we used to say we’d both be Black Ferns to­gether one day...all the lit­tle things we used to say are com­ing true.’’

But 12-year-old’s dreams rarely turn into re­al­ity if there is no sup­port, hard work, com­mit­ment or perserver­ance. And Natua had it all. She said she knew the idea of rep­re­sent­ing her coun­try was pos­si­ble in about 2012.

‘‘My Lim­it­less crew, they were the ones that helped me get back into shape to start my jour­ney.’’

The Waikato pro­vin­cial player said she even wrote her goal on the fit­ness club’s mo­ti­va­tion wall.

So when the for­mer For­est View High School player en­tered the New Zealand train­ing camp over Queen’s Birth­day, she knew she was ready.

‘‘When I went there I thought, I knew I had the tal­ent...I just had to show it. I wanted to do it for all the things I’m in­volved in back here in my own town. I wanted to do it for Toko­roa and for Lim­it­less and for all the young peo­ple I spoke in front of when I was a guest speaker [ at the Youth Worker in Schools Camp Cas­tle Rock last month].’’

And most of all, she wanted to do it for her fam­ily.

She said the fi­nal trial game was the tough­est she had ever played. But wait­ing for the an­nounce­ment was al­most tougher.

‘‘The se­lec­tors said that if you re­cieved a call that it meant that you didn’t make the team...Then I got a call and I said ‘oh is this the phone call? I didn’t make it?’’

The per­son on the other end, Black Ferns as­sis­tant coach Reuben Sa­muel, changed the sub­ject, Natua said.

Af­ter ban­ter­ing with her for a while he fi­nally broke the news.

‘‘ I just broke down cry­ing,’’ Natua said.

Sa­muel said it was an hon­our to pass on the good news.

‘‘I re­mem­ber her from For­est View. I went down and done a few train­ings there and I saw back then, Toka and Chelsea... It was al­ways go­ing to be a mat­ter of who puts their head down and works for it.’’

He said he is ex­tremely proud, be­ing her pro­vin­cial coach, and a ‘‘Toko­roa boy’’ him­self.

‘‘Over the past few months she’s trav­elled up here, [to Auck­land] and de­spite how hard it’s been she’s learnt the tech­ni­cal and prac­ti­cal side of prop.

‘‘Those who have played in that po­si­tion will re­alise how hard it is. It’s not just some­one who is big... They have a huge role on the field, more so that other po­si­tions. We felt she had enough skill al­ready to trans­fer there we just needed to see how she went.’’

Last year was the first time Natua re­ally honed in on what she could po­ten­tially be, he said.

‘‘ She was one of the big­gest threats in pro­vin­cial rugby last year...I told her we think in­ter­na­tion­ally she could be prop... [ but] she didn’t re­ally be­lieve what we were see­ing ear­lier on. She’s cer­tainly proved every­body right. She will be an in­ter­na­tional prop.

Natua said a huge thanks goes out to fam­ily and friends. She said her suc­cess is a re­sult of great coach­ing from many in­clud­ing Jeremy Si­ulepa, her un­cle John Natua, Niko Aloiai, Bones Joseph, Reuben Sa­muel, Wayne Maxwell, Crys­tal Kaua and Greg Smith.

Natua, Al­ley and Hireme have been named in the start­ing 15 for the Canada tour.

Chelsea Al­ley

Toka Natua

Honey Hireme

Three South Waikato Black Ferns will take the field in Canada in the tour later this month.

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