Rugby: Otago pair star in World Cup win

Carla Hohepa
Carla Hohepa
Carla Hohepa has come a long way since turning up at an Alhambra-Union training session five years ago.

Hohepa, the International Rugby Board's women's personality of the year, scored the only try for the Black Ferns in the tense 13-10 win over England in the World Cup final yesterday.

The other points for New Zealand were scored by the second Otago player in the team, Kelly Brazier, who kicked two penalties and a conversion.

Hohepa (25) was the equal top tryscorer at the tournament, won by the Black Ferns for a fourth consecutive time, with seven tries.

She was thrilled to win the IRB award.

"I can't take all the credit for it, but it's an awesome honour to win this award.

"The whole team performance was fantastic," Hohepa said.

Otago coach John Kyle said Hohepa always had the makings of a good rugby player.

"When she came down here she was a good netballer and was stuck between the two sports.

"Luckily, she made rugby her top priority."

Hohepa was a quick learner who worked hard on her skills, Kyle said.

She had not played rugby before arriving in Dunedin.

Brazier (20) was a natural who had played the game from a young age.

"She does those things on the rugby field that only really good male players can do.

"She knows where to look for support and what to do in certain situations."

Brazier's club coach, Nannette Haua, said the former Otago Girls' High School pupil did not know she was going to play second five-eighth in the national side until she left for the United Kingdom.

"She is a freak, really. She just has the vision to see lots of different things on the rugby field," Haua said.

"Her attitude is outstanding. She can play anywhere on the rugby field."

Both women play for Alhambra-Union and Haua remembers when Hohepa first came along to training.

"She had a wee look but was more of a netballer back then.

"But she came along the next season and worked hard.

"She is just a natural.

"She had a great attitude. Even the first time she tried to kick, and everyone laughed, she didn't give up. She just kept trying."

Originally from Waikato, Hohepa is the partner of former Otago winger Karne Hesketh, who is now playing in Japan.


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