Mason has 100 games under her belt - at 21

University flanker Georgia Mason shows her passing style at Logan Park earlier this week.PHOTO:...
University flanker Georgia Mason shows her passing style at Logan Park earlier this week.PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
You could call her a veteran - she has just racked up her 100th game for the University women's side. But Georgia Mason is hardly old - in fact she is still only 21.

The openside flanker, whom her former coach described as the best player at the breakdown in Dunedin, must surely be the youngest player in the country to bring up 100 senior games.

Mason, who is doing a master's in sport development and management this year after graduating with a bachelor of science degree last year, said she had loved the game since she first started playing in Owaka at the age of 5.

"I just enjoy getting out there. You can't explain it and it is different to every person but I love it enough to keep getting out there," she said.

"I still love the game. That is what I love about it the most. Getting out and playing."

Mason though does more than her share for the game. She is not a hand-out sort of player, being the first to help out.

She has helped coach the Otago secondary schoolgirls team, coached the St Hilda's Collegiate first XV, helps out at schoolgirl sessions, assisted a Forward Foundation team, and coaches at the Green Island club academy.

She first came to the University club in 2012 when she was 14 and in year 10 at Southland Girls' High School. She had already made waves, being picked for the South Island under-48kg team when still at primary school.

She played tribute to coaches Ian Huddlestone in Owaka, Peter Skelt in Southland, and Terry Kerr, Helen Littleworth and Graeme Reid in Dunedin.

She has won championships with University in 2013, 2016 and 2018. She has been to Black Ferns camps and identification camps but has yet to wear the black jersey.

"Sure I would like to be a Black Fern but if it comes it comes. If it doesn't, it doesn't. I'm still having a lot of fun.

"The great thing about the game is all the opportunities it brings, all the people you meet along the way ... the opening up of ideas and a whole different way of doing things.

"I was 14 when I came into the team. It was great to be accepted into what was an outstanding team. The friendships you have made, still keep in touch with a lot them.

"But you might lose a tight game and you sort of have to get over it together and everyone gets a bit closer."

Mason has played for the Spirit and been a tigerish flanker for many years. At the moment, she has an injured knee after injuring a couple of ligaments. She will miss the rest of the season for University but hoped to be back for the Otago Spirit's season.

"I had actually played my 100th game for the club but did not know as no-one really keeps count and I thought it was coming up. Then I did my knee five weeks ago. But they did a proper count and I had actually played it and have now played 101 games.

"It sort of feels a bit weird. It does not feel like I imagined it would. It had been a long-term plan to play 100 games but it is not exactly how I planned it would happen."

Kerr said Mason was an outstanding player, gave of her time readily and was the best reader of the game around the breakdown in the city, male or female.

The club will celebrate her 100 games today.

University locks Kate Smith and Jess Kendall will play 50 games for the club in the semifinal against North Otago at Logan Park today.

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