Bay of Plenty rugby fans were treated to an entertaining double header at the Tauranga Domain on Saturday, but for one family it was a truly special occasion.

Once a couple of kids from the small town of Waimana and now a couple of towering locks, siblings Baden and Mikyla Wardlaw started for the Steamers and Volcanix respectively in their games against Canterbury.

Mikyla is a stalwart of Bay of Plenty women's rugby, while Rotoiti captain and inspirational leader Baden was starting for the Steamers for the first time on Saturday. While neither side achieved the desired result against their Canterbury counterparts, it was undoubtedly a proud moment for the entire Wardlaw family.

"It was very special," Baden said.


"At the start of the year she was telling me that she was done, she was retired. I said 'come on, let's do one more year', because it's my first full year on a contract. It's a big event for the family, that makes it that much bigger and special. I think the whole of my little town, Waimana, is here."

He said, growing up, his greatest desire was always to be a Steamer one day.

"Ever since I was 4 or 5 years old I've looked up to them. It's always special to put the Steamers jersey on. Today was my first start for the Bay, I've started my professional career late, being 28, but that's just a number and I'm still learning."

Playing the same position and being of a similarly powerful stature, Baden said he and Mikayla were able to help each other and share their experiences throughout their rugby careers.

"I caught the end of her game today. She's a good player and she gives me lots of tips, she's been in the game longer than me."

Mikyla said the Wardlaw family was "stoked" to be at the Tauranga Domain watching her and Baden play.

"They're all up in the stadium there, so it's a big day for them too. It's awesome, it's a great feeling. I usually go to Baden for a bit of advice on fitness training and stuff like that. He's got really good motivation, Baden, so he's my go-to guy for that. He's done awesome, the family are really proud of him and I'm proud of him, he's come a long way," she said.