Black Ferns duo eye Olympic gold and NRLW title

Scott Bailey |

St George Illawarra are prepared to wait for Tyla King as she chases an Olympic-NRLW title double.
St George Illawarra are prepared to wait for Tyla King as she chases an Olympic-NRLW title double.

St George Illawarra five-eighth Tyla King is at home in Tauranga, on the North Island of New Zealand, with two playbooks in front of her.

One acts as the key to winning a second rugby sevens Olympic gold for New Zealand, the other is a how-to guide on claiming her maiden NRLW premiership ring at the Dragons.

A little further down the road in the land of the long white cloud, Brisbane centre Stacey Wakka is doing the same thing – preparing for her switch to rugby league while still eyeing off Olympic gold in the rugby sevens with New Zealand.

For all the talk of Mark Nawaqanitawase trying to win gold for Australia and an NRL title with the Sydney Roosters in the space of a few months, so too are the Kiwi women’s pair.

And they are doing it with the firm blessings of their NRLW clubs, with the Dragons holding back King’s arrival until round four of the season.

One of the club’s best players last year under her maiden name of Tyla Nathan-Wong, King is already a dual-code star.

She is the most experienced and leading-pointscorer in New Zealand sevens history, and played No.6 for the Kiwi Ferns after one season of NRLW last year.

The 30-year-old will compete at her third Olympics this month, before returning to the Dragons.

“We want her to win gold, because she will go down as one of the top four or five players in sevens history,” Dragons NRWL coach Jamie Soward told AAP. 

“When we spoke about it before any money got involved, I asked what her plans were.

“She said she wants to play at the Olympics and then come back to the Dragons. I told her that was really good because she has unfinished business here. 

“But also there were no reservations from us because we know what she did for our club last year in terms of leadership.”

King has been sent plays to prepare for when she does land back at the Dragons, with the gold medal Olympic match to be played before round two of the NRLW on July 30.

The five-eighth has also spent extensive time video calling Soward, planning on how to take the Dragons back to the NRLW finals with the best young talent in the competition.

In the mean time, the Dragons are likely to partner rising star Kasey Reh with Raecene McGregor in the opening rounds.

“We’ve got a program. We don’t need to worry about (King’s) fitness,” Soward said. 

“But in terms of playbook stuff, we have a schedule where we can feel comfortable she is going to come in and know what we’re doing.

“She knows when she comes back and we’re 3-0, which is the dream, then we look to where it all fits and sit down then.”