24 May 2023

Black Ferns Sevens player Tyla Nathan-Wong is the latest New Zealand rugby star to swap codes and move across the Tasman.

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has agreed to release Nathan-Wong from her contract at her own request to pursue an opportunity to sign for the St George Illawarra Dragons in the NRLW.

The Dragons confirmed the signing in a tweet on Wednesday: “Olympic gold medalist and rugby sevens gun Tyla Nathan-Wong is now a Dragon.”

Nathan-Wong joins fellow Sevens teammate Niall Guthrie (née Williams) and five-cap Black Fern Cheyelle Robins-Reti as new signings in the women’s rugby league competition.

Nathan-Wong has been involved in the Black Ferns Sevens programme since her debut in 2012 at the age of 18. She has been a pivotal player for the Black Ferns Sevens during this time, achieving a number of milestones on the world stage. Notably she has won two Sevens Rugby World Cups, Olympic silver and gold medals, Commonwealth Games bronze and gold medals, alongside seven Sevens World Series titles.

The 28-year-old said league has always been in her blood and the opportunity to play in the NRLW was a dream.

“I come from a big league family, so that’s where my love for league has always been,” Nathan-Wong said.

“That was my very first sport as a kid at like six years old. I was playing alongside the boys and my cousins and dad were the coaches. I’ve always had this massive love for league and followed the NRL. When the NRLW first started a few years back I was like, ‘man, that is so cool’. Obviously I was in the thick of it with the sevens programme then and been like, ‘how cool would it be to one day jump across’. Post-Tokyo Olympics that actually sprung up again and I thought this could actually be a viable option for me.

“We forecast ahead and looked at what the season would look like and there was this big break at the end of 2023. That’s the perfect opportunity to finally allow this other dream of mine to finally come to fruition and really jump in head first into it and that’s what I’ve done.”