Former Black Fern prop Kamila Wihongi trains with the Otago
Spirit at the Edgar Centre this week. Photo by Peter
The return of former Black Fern prop Fern Kamila Wihongi
will add strength to the Otago Spirit scrum in the national
championships that begin this weekend.
Wihongi (26) missed last season because of reconstruction
surgery on both her knees.
Her anterior cruciate ligaments were injured in collisions on
the rugby paddock.
"It was very frustrating not being able to get back on the
paddock with the girls," she said.
"I had to make a decision to take nearly two years off to
Last winter, she returned to her home town of Kaikohe to
regain confidence and fitness, and also coached a college
"It gave me the desire and made me want to get back and give
it one last shot," Wihongi said.
The real test came when she returned to Dunedin this winter
to play for the University club and Otago"I want to make the
Black Ferns squad again," she said.
"I know that I that I will have to work hard to get back up
Her knees stood up to the pressure of club rugby and this has
given Wihongi the confidence to return to the representative
Two props who Wihongi has looked up to and gained inspiration
from are former All Black Carl Hayman and former Black Fern
Margaret McKenzie, who took Wihongi under her wing when they
played together in the Otago front row.
"I have learnt a lot from [her] about techniques and
tactics," she said.
Wihongi played for Northland before coming to Dunedin to
study at the Sports Institute of Otago in 2000.
She then went on to complete a physical education degree at
the University of Otago.
Her ability was recognised by the New Zealand selectors and
she was named in the Black Ferns for the Churchill Cup in
Canada in 2005.
Wihongi comes from a sporting family, with siblings Milliar
(23) and Carlin (21) playing senior rugby in Northland.
The most noted member of the family is her sister Verina who
became the first New Zealand woman to contest taekwondo at
the Athens Olympics in 2004.