Tokoroa’s three try treat
The last time a prop scored a hattrick in a Rugby World Cup final was, well, it had never been done before Sunday morning’s effort from Black Ferns prop Toka Natua.
Tokoroa born and bred, the 25-year-old graphic designer was a try-scoring machine in the final and also heavy in defence when the Black Ferns needed it in the face of England’s first-half onslaught.
Quietly spoken after the 41-32 win over England in Ireland, Natua said she was just happy to be a part of a team she had dreamed of making since she was in year eight - the first time she picked up the oval ball.
‘‘Oh just awesome, I’m speechless. This is a dream come true to be honest. To be honest I just wanted to make the Black Ferns and I wanted to do it for my family. They were the ones who wanted me in the World Cup.’’
Natua made the Black Ferns in 2015, a year after the team was prematurely knocked out of the World Cup by Ireland. While she missed that defeat, she could sense many of her team-mates wanted some sort of redemption leading in to Sunday’s final.
Not one to put herself in the centre of attention, Natua kept a cool head during the tournament and started with No 1 on her back in every match - a sign coach Glenn Moore had a huge a amount of faith in his loosehead prop.
It was expected that winger and the tournament’s top tryscorer, Portia Woodman, would do what she does best and take the lead for the Black Ferns in the final. But when England directed play and closed the flanks down, New Zealand had to rethink their strategy and keep the ball in the forwards.
So naturally, Natua, who used to play No 8 and flanker, took her 101kg frame and hit the ball up.
‘‘I guess I just did my job. I’ve only been a prop for three years and I always liked to play openside flanker for Waikato. It was about the girls and I am so happy with what we have achieved over here.’’
Natua is a graphic designer for a small business called Sign Magic. She will return to work this week, after the team arrives home to Auckland on Tuesday night.
‘‘I think I go straight back to work, I haven’t really thought it through.’’