26th September 2023
After a long and esteemed international Test career, with almost a decade of service to the Black and White jersey, Kiwi Fern #124 Krystal Rota has called time on her international career.
Former Manurewa Marlin and Papakura Sea Eagle, Krystal Rota developed into one of the most prominent players in women’s rugby league and one of New Zealand’s great captains in recent years. She went on to win seven NZRL National Championship titles with the Counties Manukau Stingrays, to which she captained the team to victory in four.
Krystal earned her Kiwi Ferns call-up in 2015 for the Kiwi Ferns v Jillaroos 9s match before later debuting off the bench in the Anzac Test.
Rota earned a promotion to the No. 9 jersey for the corresponding Anzac Test in 2016, then retained her spot for the following 2017 Anzac clash. By then, the dynamic dummy half had cemented her place in the Kiwi Ferns, soon joining the 2017 Rugby League World Cup team. Rota was a mainstay during the tournament and in the Ferns’ gallant defeat to the Jillaroos in the final.
After being crowned ARL Player of the Year in 2017, Krystal went on to feature in the 2018, 2019, and 2022 NRLW seasons for the New Zealand Warriors and Newcastle Knights, earning an NRL Dally M nomination for Women’s Player of the Year in 2018.
Back in Black and White colours, Krystal played a crucial role in the 2019 World Cup Nines campaign, which saw the Kiwi Ferns make history, upsetting Australia in the final, 17-15.
Rota also received captain honours in both 2019 and 2020 to lead the Māori All-Stars against the Indigenous All-Stars.
The veteran’s leadership qualities continued to be recognised in 2020 when she was named Kiwi Ferns’ captain for the end-of-season Test against Fetū Samoa. She subsequently earned Kiwi Ferns’ Player of the Year.
Most recently, Krystal led New Zealand in the mid-2022 Test against Tonga and was among the Kiwi Ferns’ most experienced campaigners at the England World Cup later that year. She played all five matches to ultimately finish her international career with 15 Test caps gained over seven years.
GM of High-Performance and Football at NZRL Motu Tony reflects on Rota’s illustrious career, “Krystal’s retirement from the Kiwi Ferns marks the end of an era, but her impact on the team and rugby league will remain.
“Her dedication and talent have inspired many players, particularly our young up-and-coming female participants. We are grateful for all she has done for the Kiwi Ferns and rugby league in New Zealand. We wish her the best in her future endeavours.”
New Zealand fans have had the privilege of seeing Krystal in the #9 jersey and leading the team by example for the past seven years.
Rota fondly reflects on her accomplished time as a Kiwi Fern and Kiwi Ferns captain,
“An absolute honour & privilege it’s been to wear the Kiwi Fern.
Worn with passion & pride, but now it’s someone else’s turn.
Memories I’ll forever cherish with lifelong friendships made,
The vision of playing at the pinnacle with many legends will never fade.
To represent our beautiful country in the code that I adore,
It’s been a dream come true, signing out Kiwi Fern #124.”