Mihaka Lemon is ready to pull on the black jersey as he heads aboard a plane to England for the first time.

The 29-year-old will play for the New Zealand Deaf Blacks on their English tour.

Lemon was diagnosed as profoundly deaf when he was 1 but that hasn't stopped him playing the sport he loves.

Lemon picked up the sport when he was in high school and had to overcome growing pains initially.


"I originally started out playing field hockey and when I was 13 or 14 I started playing with a fully hearing-capable team and I didn't really know what was going on," he said.

"Communication was a really big thing. It was pretty tough, we had to write things down to communicate.

"But over time I got my ball skills up and learned strategies but like in most things the more I played the more I picked it up.

"The guys I knew really well on the team let me know when the referee had blown the whistle but over time I just kept a really close eye on the ref. My buddies and I played on the same teams growing up so they knew what I needed out there."

Lemon, who plays various positions in the forward pack, said being able to represent his country and home town of Kaikohe on the international stage was special.

"It was a proud moment for me and whanau to hear the good news about this great opportunity to go and firstly represent myself from a small town of Kaikohe and my sub-tribe and my own whanau and all my deaf friends," he said.

"I was playing for Auckland Deaf Marlins team as they were the closest to the Far North for me and a few other mates and so then I was selected to represent and play for NZ Deaf All Blacks.

"I'm very proud and really motivated and keen to play well. One thing that was a bit disappointing was when I was involved with the team before was while I played for the Marlins team I didn't make the squad for the Wales tour but I can't wait to get over there."

Lemon had to raise $4000 in sponsorship to head over and was helped by a few different people, including the Northland Rugby Union.

The former Okaihau First XV player has been plying his trade with the Kaikohe senior side throughout the club season, maintaining his match fitness ahead of his biggest rugby challenge.

"Many thanks go out to the coaches and team for giving me the training and partial games on Saturday's to play also keep up my fitness before going on the trip to England," he said.

"They are so pleased and excited that this deaf Maori boy has been selected to play top side in England, as they say not many of us make it overseas to represent our country and especially from a small rural town.

"They are so honoured to understand that you can achieve it even if you are deaf."

The Deaf Blacks leave for England at the end of October for three test matches and one tour fixture.