Toko­roa’s three try treat

South Waikato News - - Front Page - OLIVIA CALD­WELL

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.’’

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