29 October 2020

Trish Hina arguably one of New Zealand’s greatest sportswoman, will run out for the Upper Central Stallions this Saturday in the NZRL National Women’s Championship final after a ten-year hiatus from rugby league.

Ex Kiwi Fern captain, Hina has impressively represented her country in four sports: league, union, touch and softball.

Hina’s journey with rugby league began in 1993 when New Zealand Rugby League established competitions for women where Hina would play club rugby on Saturday and league on Sunday.

She was selected for the first Kiwi Ferns side that toured Australia but didn’t attend because of softball commitments. However, the stand-off soon established herself as the best women’s league player in the world.

Hina was a member of the Te Ahora club side in Wellington that won 11 consecutive Wellington titles. In 1999 she captained Wellington to the National title, historically an event dominated by Auckland.

In 2000 Hina was named MVP at the first women’s rugby league World Cup and in 2000 Hina was named New Zealand Rugby League Player of the year.

The second World Cup was staged in Auckland in 2003 and was a much larger event to which the Kiwi Ferns beat the New Zealand Maori 58-0, illustrating the strength of the women’s game in New Zealand.

In 2008 the Kiwi Ferns defended their World title again and Hina was named MVP of the World Cup for a second time. In the final, New Zealand thrashed Australia, 34-0 and Hina played arguably her greatest game, scoring two tries and kicking three conversions.

In 2009 the Kiwi Fern trailblazer moved from Wellington to Auckland in an attempt to achieve the one goal that had eluded her – to make the New Zealand women’s rugby union team, the Black Ferns, and that she did.

Within a year, Hina cracked a side that had only lost three games in twenty years. However, she then struck adversity:

“In 2011, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Kidney Disease, which prevented me from playing High-Performance Sport, so I moved from Auckland to Gisborne to focus on my health and wellbeing. It was basically the same disease that Jonah Lomu had, but in a more mild form,” said Hina.

Her last game of league was for the Kiwi Ferns against England at Trusts Stadium in 2010.

Hina will return to the same stadium, exactly ten years from when she last said goodbye, but this time as an Upper Central Stallion in the NZRL National Women’s Championship final this Saturday.

“10 years later I’m feeling fitter then I have ever been,” says Hina.

“I have my 20month old son SEKANI-HEIZ who inspires me every day to enjoy the things I love to do.

“Emotions were very high leading up to the tournament; I was nervous, excited, unsure if my body would cope with the contact, once I got on the field my natural footy instinct kicked in and I started having some fun. I still have a long way to get to the standard I want to be at; it is going to be a lot of hard training during summer break this year.

“Playing with the Stallion team has also helped with my transition back to league, the culture within the team and the support from the management and the Upper Central Rugby League staff have been amazing, it feels like being a part of a high-performance team again.”

2020 marks the inaugural NZRL Women’s Championship and Sky Sport Women’s Premiership, stand-alone women’s competitions that have been a long time coming but showcase the growth and strength the women’s game in New Zealand possesses.

“Finally women are getting the recognition they deserve,” says Hina.

“I’m loving the pathways and opportunities women have in league nowadays, the standard of league has really improved, girls are quick, fit and strong and that’s a result of the work, money and time going into this space.”

The Upper Central Stallions are taking on the Auckland Vulcans at 10:30 am on Saturday 31st October at Trusts Stadium, Auckland. Thanks to Radio Tainui the game will be livestreamed on New Zealand Rugby League’s Facebook page.