Hames's hard road to All Blacks

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

From limbo land to a Bledisloe Cup in less than a year - meet the newest All Blacks prop, Kane Hames.

A 2013 shot in New Zealand’s provincial competition with Bay of Plenty earned him a Maori All Blacks start and ultimately a Super Rugby shot with the Highlanders.

Eighteen injury-riddled months and poor discipline ended his first professional stint, leaving Hames at a crossroads ahead of the 2016 season.

Hames went uncontracted with no New Zealand sides keen to hand him a Super Rugby lifeline at the beginning of the year.

An ACL injury to Pauliasi Manu gave him a second chance and Hames has made the most of it, making the All Blacks squad for the second time in his career.

Again it was an injury that opened a door for Hames, with Crusaders prop Joe Moody ruled out of the Bledisloe Cup.

Kane Hames in action for the Chiefs. Photo: Getty ImagesNamed on the bench for the opening Test, Hames will certainly earn his All Blacks debut on Saturday, the culmination of an unlikely journey to his debut.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen praised Hames’s psychological resilience, after selecting him in the side for Saturday.

“It's a massive opportunity and congratulations to him and his family and it's a proud moment to be selected for the first time,” he said.

“Whilst he's in the 23, it's pretty obviously he's going to get some game time - we usually play all our props.

“To come from where he's come from, shows that he’s got a good mental fortitude to hang in there and keep working hard and he's got the reward of that.”

Hames’s thirst for improvement has not been quenched yet, sitting down with Wyatt Crockett and asking questions and seeking advice.

“It's been an awesome week working with Kane and he's a guy that he's got a real good mindset,” Crockett said.

“He's just trying to learn as much as he can this week so we've sat down, had a couple of chats, he's asked a few questions, hopefully I've answered them right.

“He's really looking forward to and excited about his opportunity and he just wants to nail the week and he's doing a great job so he's put himself in a good position to just go out and play now.”