As seen on 1news.co.nz
Even Tyla Nathan-Wong admits she’s still coming to grips wearing the Kiwi Ferns jersey.
But it could soon become a regular occurrence, named in the New Zealand women’s squad for the upcoming Pacific Championship against Australia and Tonga.
“Obviously I’ve always been a big supporter and follower of Rugby League in general especially NRL and NRLW since it started from a far,” says Nathan-Wong.
“But never did I think I’d be pulling on the Kiwi Ferns jersey obviously you think far out how cool would that be one day if I ever could.”
“To think in my first year of ever playing league in the NRLW and be able to potentially pull on this jersey for what’s my fifth sport at an international level I’ll be pulling the black jersey on for.”
And it’s that wealth of experience that’s made her adjustment to the NRLW so easy.
While her side St George Illawarra Dragons haven’t fared as well as she would have hoped, Nathan-Wong still managed to form a strong halves partnership with fellow Kiwi Fern Raecene McGregor.
“She might be new to rugby league but as a professional athlete Tyla’s done it all really so she’ll call on a lot of experience to help her play well against the Australians and Tongans,” says Kiwi Ferns coach Ricky Henry.
The decision to switch codes, a “now or never” moment for the sevens Olympic gold medallist.
“In general playing contact sport your window is limited your body can only handle so much.
“But then being female too there’s that time where you do want to settle down and start a family and unfortunately out of the two you’re the one who becomes pregnant and has to hold the baby which is incredible in of itself.
“That’s why I knew, I just felt I was at a point in my career where I achieved everything I wanted to,” says Nathan-Wong.
Whānau was ultimately the determining factor for the 29-year-old especially considering her grandfather, David Wong, was the first Chinese-New Zealander to play for Auckland’s provincial rugby league team.
“He’s that proud person who will tell the supermarket check out person that I’m his granddaughter and to watch me on TV.”
No doubt grandad or gung gung as he’s affectionately called in the family, will be watching next weekend when the Kiwi Ferns kick the Pacific Champions off against the Jillaroos in Townsville.