Kaipo Olsen-Baker set for huge 2022 season

Kaipo

Her path to Test status has much in common with many other girls growing up with a love for rugby.

She was the only girl playing with boys and had to go through all the usual comments about being a girl. However, she persevered and shared in the triumph of the women's game achieving a professional competition in New Zealand.

A teacher aide at Feilding High School, her injury kept her out of the Manawatū Cyclones team that dominated the Farah Palmer Cup Championship division last year, but she was selected as part of the Hurricanes Poua who finished second in the inaugural Sky Super Rugby Aupiki competition.

“I hate crying in front of people but this has been a dream of mine ever since I was little. It will mean so much to me and my whānau [to wear the black jersey].”

Kaipo Olsen-Baker

Olsen-Baker said she was lying on a couch when she got a phone call from Black Ferns assistant coach and Hurricanes Poua coach Wesley Clarke, and thought to herself it was either good news or bad, so she prepared herself for whatever it brought.

"I answered the phone, and he told me I had made it into the team and I was like, 'Wait, are you serious?' And he said he was serious.

"I didn't know what to say. I had no words, I just wanted to cry and run and tell my Mum and my sisters. I was so happy," she said.

There were tears all round for the family and it made her realise their depth of pride in what she had achieved.

Olsen-Baker had only attended one Black Ferns camp, in Christchurch, before the selection due to an ACL injury she had, so being involved left her 'super-stoked'.

Just how much she missed playing rugby was hit home to her when having her first game in Aupiki after returning from her injury.

"I'm so glad to be involved back in it," she said.

Having men's World Cup-winning coaches like Wayne Smith and Graham Henry involved with the side was great and she found them amazing.

"Wayne Smith is so easy to talk to…I'm so excited to get heaps of knowledge off both of them," she said.

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