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'Is that Black Fern in your team, mum?': Kate Henwood recounts meteoric rise

By Ned Lester
Kate Henwood with ball in hand for the Chiefs Manawa. Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

Following the Black Ferns’ announcement of 2023’s fully contracted players, one contract took longer than the rest to get settled.


That was the contract of Kate Henwood, a 34-year-old from Opotiki with an already well-established career as a management accountant with Whakatane’s Control Tech Ltd.

Despite Henwood’s superb form for the Chiefs Manawa, the call from new Black Ferns coach Allan Bunting took the prop by surprise and once the celebrating was done, she realised she was left with a “big decision”.

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“It did mean big changes,” she said. “I’m older, with a career, and I’ve worked hard to get to where I was.

“The next day, I was like ‘did I dream that just happened?’ It was really surprising.

“I’ve probably not been dreaming about this. Maybe 10 years ago I was. But you’re never going to get an opportunity like this, to train full-time.

“I’ve always done rugby on the side. To be full-time and to see what you can achieve, that’s the most exciting thing.”


One of five kids in a rugby family, Henwood’s success on the field was always overshadowed by brother Sam, who boasts Chiefs, Hurricanes and Maori All Black credentials.

“He was the golden child, but I’ve now surpassed him,” she joked.

Now with a family of her own, support has to be earned from within the household, with 8-year-old daughter Stella slowly coming around to the idea that her mum is “cool”.

“Stella started getting excited when I was around the (Bay of Plenty) Volcanix. There was a home game that she came to, and we were signing autographs.

“She started thinking, ‘this is a big deal’.

“Then, at the Chiefs, she was saying ‘is that Black Fern in your team, mum?’ She thinks they’re really cool. Not mum, though.”


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sean 32 minutes ago
The bite don't match the bark

Yeah, he has a few good points… I disagree that our 7s haven't done anything, we won Bronze in 2016, and we were virtually unplayable to the backend of the “teens” winning the series. 7s is far more competitive globally than Union, so it's fair to say we haven't dominated, but we are almost always contenders. But I do agree that our national side doesn't perform nearly as well as it should between World Cups, and I do agree that our supporters can be too passionate and the opitimity of what Rugby stands against. I have said so many times. And I also believe some context needs to be taken into account with Saturday's win for Ireland. They're a really good team! Settled coaching staff, and bar a few legends retiring, they've had a full season and plenty of time together. We have some youngsters being groomed for the future, have played only 3 games now under a new coaching team with new philosophies and game plans. I'm excited by what the future of this team holds, as much as I am disappointed by the result. But unlike this article suggests, I am never going to take away from what Ireland has achieved, is achieving, and where they're heading. As a Rugby fan, I love the tight games, like the last two weekends. As a Bok Super Fan, I agree we don't perform as well as we should. And as an aside, you come play a game at 7am on our fields, bud. -2°c and frost on the field that is as hard as concrete…. Then we’ll see just how tough you are. Well done Ireland! They played well, and gave our boys a lot to think about. That's what you want from the top two teams in the world. Rugby won. The fans of this greatbsport won. A'n bullshit like this article is why Rugby is losing its identity. I don't like soccer. This article perpetuates the soccer influences the game of Rugby is starting to see. It's why Wayne Barnes retired, feared for his family, and he isn't the only ref to say so. I have called out many Bok fans for being an embarrassment to the game, and I will continue to do so., this article is close to the same bullshit. You should be better.

33 Go to comments
Michael 1 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Cant deny Christie is a good defender, box kicks well at times, BUT he’s a second too slow passing from the ground. Roigard, Ratima and Hotham will be our 2027 halfbacks I believe DMAC has played reasonably well in both games, so deserves to keep his place - his two breaks at Eden Park should have resulted in tries. Reece was really to blame for the Taylor failure - he stayed too wide, if he had come in a couple of meters the pass from Taylor would have worked. The Perofeta failure was extraordinary, he is normally such a good distributor, failure to draw in Steward was remarkable, failure to look inside was a shocker. Cory Flynn as lineout coach… umm something a miss here. Not sure who is calling the lineouts, but clearly we miss Whitelock’s leadership. Having a disfunctional line out really underminded the AB attack. But let’s remind ourselves Itoje is a master, and their tactics of going for the arms of the jumper on landing and pulling over was brilliant causing Paddy and Scooter to both fumble the balls. I am a Blues supporter so I like Talea, but if you play him on the wrong wing look out. While he’s not the fastest wing, he’s elusive and very industrious always looking for work. However, he’s not the tallest player, and everyone knows his weakness (a) being turned in defence - he’s slow to turn and react and (b) never jumps for high balls is normally out jumped. Personally, I find Recce and Talea too alike - Razor needs to couple them with another complementary partner Clark and Narawa respectively. However, for me the real troubling challenge is our mid-field. I am sorry Barrett & Ioane are a poor combo - either Barrett & Proctor or ALB & Ioane - but having two mid-fielders who are poor distributors is nuts. Jordie had a forgettable game in truth he missed so many tackles, which to be fair is unlike him. But sadly both Barrett and Ioane chose to bash first and rarely distribute cleanly.

22 Go to comments
TRENDING Time to say goodbye to this Springboks team Time to say goodbye to this Springboks team