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Young Cantabrian’s ‘crazy' journey to maiden Black Ferns start at No. 10

By Finn Morton
Hannah King of New Zealand kicks it through during the 2024 Pacific Four Series match between New Zealand Black Ferns and USA at FMG Stadium Waikato on May 11, 2024 in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

New Zealand first five Hannah King “didn’t think” she’d receive an opportunity to play for the Black Ferns at just 20 years of age. But after making the move north from Canterbury to Wellington to pursue a Super Aupiki deal, King hasn’t looked back.


On the back of a breakout season with Hurricanes Poua, King was included in the Black Ferns’ star-studded squad ahead of their Pacific Four Series campaign. The young Cantabrian would be rubbing shoulders with giants of the game.

King was picked as one of just two first five-eighths along with Rugby World Cup-winning co-captain and 2022 World Rugby Player of the Year Ruahei Demant. In the world of international rugby, there aren’t many better than Demant.

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But while the two playmakers have competed to impress coaches, King went from not knowing the Black Ferns’ leader by the nickname ‘Lu’ to becoming quite close. Demant has even quizzed King during training to make sure the youngster is “on to it.”

“(She’s) been such a great mentor for a young player coming through. Any questions she answers straightway, anything. She even questions me to make sure I’m on to it and it’s really good because that’s how I learn,” King told RugbyPass after the Black Ferns’ Captain’s Run.

“We just work so well together. Even when she’s out there at 12 when I was out there (on debut) – I love playing with her and she’s such a cool player and such a cool mentor.”

Now, after a fair while in camp, King is set for her most excitingly nerve-wracking challenge yet with coaches Allan Bunting and Co. handing the Hurricanes Poua talent a maiden Test start.


King will wear the coveted No.10 jersey as the Black Ferns’ primary playmaker against traditional rivals Australia on Saturday afternoon, while Demant looked to provide impact off the pine along with halfback Maia Joseph.

The 20-year-old, who played two Farah Palmer Cup seasons with Canterbury, bet on herself by making the move north to the capital and it’s paid off in a big way.


Last 4 Meetings

Average Points scored
First try wins
Home team wins

After debuting off the bench against the USA earlier in the Pacific Four Series, King will reach new heights in front of family at North Harbour Stadium.

“It’s been quite the journey. To be honest, it’s always been a dream of mine. I’ve been working pretty hard for it but I just didn’t think I’d come this early,” King reflected.


“At 20, it’s cool because this team is still quite young still, there’s a lot of young (players) like our backline is still pretty young. It’s quite cool to learn with those young ones as well.

“20, it’s crazy. I’m just so grateful to the coaches for giving me this opportunity. Even for my (teams) back home in Canterbury and the Hurricanes for giving me the opportunity to get here too.

“It was a hard decision, I’m not gonna lie, when I got the call for the opportunity to get a contract there because I’ve always wanted to play for home,” she added when asked about the move north from Canterbury.

“At the same time, you can’t say no to opportunities.

“The Hurricanes, in this area you’ve got to take those opportunities and I’m very grateful that I did.”

Hannah King Black Ferns Pacific Four Series
Finn Morton spoke with Black Ferns flyhalf Hannah King before her first start at Test level. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

There’s always pressure whenever anyone wears the black jersey. It’s a big responsibility, but you don’t have to tell the playing group that.

Whether it was the intensity in which they trained, or their unwavering generosity to interact with young kids who just wanted to meet their rugby heroes at North Harbour Stadium on Friday, the Black Ferns are a class act on and off the field.

But they’re “hurting” and so are their upcoming opponents in Australia.

New Zealand were beaten by Canada for the first time ever last time out. As for the Wallaroos, they’re coming off a disappointing defeat to the United States of America in Melbourne.

“We’re all pretty gutted about last week but I think that just builds a fire in our bellies to get out there and put a line in the sand to show how we are as players.

“I feel like last week, that wasn’t really us.

“We’re here, we’re here now, we live in the present and we’re going to make big moves now.

“They’ll be hurting like us from last week so it’s going to be a good match out there because both teams are hurt from last week and they’re going to go hard,” she continued when asked about the Wallaroos.

“We know they’ve got attacking threats across the park, they’re really physical.

“It should be a good fight.

“The two nations, there’s always been a bit of a tussle there in men’s and women’s rugby so it’ll be a good fight.”

This Trans-Tasman blockbuster at North Harbour Stadium will kick off at 12:05 pm AEST / 2:05 pm NZT. Fans can watch the Pacific Four Series clash live and free on RugbyPassTV if they sign up HERE.

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