Former veteran Black Ferns New Zealand women's rugby star Emma Jensen is making a bid for an administrative career in the game by seeking election to the Hawke's Bay Rugby Union board.
She is one of three candidates up for the vote on Wednesday, with incumbent and former Napier Tech chairman Mark Hamilton retiring by rotation and seeks re-election and the field being completed by Havelock North club president Conrad Waitoa.
Now 43, Jensen grew up in Central Hawke's Bay but played most of her football while living in Auckland, in a career that amassed 43 matches for New Zealand from 2005-2015, including three World Cup tournaments, and more than 70 matches for Auckland and Hawke's Bay during 18 seasons of Farah Palmer Cup national women's championship rugby.
Last year, as a 42-year-old mother and a schoolteacher, she was still playing for the Hawke's Bay Tui championships side last year, but vows not to pull the boots back on this year, especially if elected to the Board.
She said that when she returned to Hawke's Bay about three years ago she wanted to at some stage put something back into the game which had given her so much over the years.
"But I didn't think it would be this soon," said Jensen who was nominated by her club, Hastings Rugby and Sports.
She said she's passionate about "the grassroots – where it all started for me", and if elected she wants to be able to help grow the numbers in the women's and age groups areas of the sport.
"It's all about the pathways," she said, adding the game in Hawke's Bay needs to have more players coming through, to overcome such issues as player loss as teenagers become young adults and leave the area in pursuit of university study and other careers.
She is currently a teacher at Hastings Girls' High School, and has been a staff representative on its Board of Trustees.
If successful she will become the first female elected to the board or former administration the Management Committee in the 137 years of the union. Current member Mavis Mullins was appointed as an independent director after being beaten narrowly by Hamilton in a vote for an elected position.
Hamilton is also a former Napier City councillor and heads Napier business Alexander Construction.
Third candidate Waitoa is well-known in rugby circles, from player to club and Hawke's Bay teams team management to life membership of his club and to being made a Ngati Kahungunu Sports Awards Administrator of the Year.
But he is also widely known in business and other community leadership roles, including having been chair of the Havelock Intermediate School Board and a member of the Board of Cranford Hospice.