Black Ferns' replacement winger Carla Hohepa always has and always will put her team first before any individual glory.

With the world cup in the balance with 11 minutes remaining in Belfast on Sunday, Hohepa unselfishly offloaded to fullback Selica Winiata to score the match winning try when she looked odds-on to score herself.

Hohepa has gas to burn, being a former sprint champion.

Carla Hohepa on the run during the Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 final against England. New Zealand won the Cup 41-32
Carla Hohepa on the run during the Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 final against England. New Zealand won the Cup 41-32

She was in full flight with only one England defender to beat five metres out from the tryline. But rather than bring the risk factor into play, she offloaded, in the tackle, to an unmarked Winiata outside her who scored untouched to clinch the world cup for the Black Ferns.


"Carla's good like that. That's the type of (unselfish) player she is," Debbie Hohepa told the Courier after her daughter had just been crowned world champion for the second time.

"I couldn't be prouder of her and her teammates. It was fantastic to see them win the cup for a fifth time."

Back home in Te Awamutu the Hohepa household was one of many around the country sitting on the edge of their seats watching the early morning game.

"It was pretty loud, there was lots of cheering," said Mrs Hohepa.

The full house included Carla's father Selwyn Hohepa (ex Waikato rugby rep), her sister Chyna (NZ Sevens rep) and granddaughter Aria, 3, who already plays rugby for Kihikihi, brother Herewini, sister Ngawaina and friends.

New Zealand restored their supremacy in women's rugby by relieving England of the world cup 41-32.

Hohepa played a starring role, mostly as an impact player off the bench throughout the tournament.

She scored the opening try against Hong Kong and set up several tries in other games when introduced to the fray with 20 minutes to play.


At the 2010 world cup at Twickenham, Hohepa broke England hearts when she jinked inside and then out to score the Black Ferns' only try in their 13-10 win over the hosts in the final.

She became one of the stars of the tournament with her pace, skillset and vision resulting in seven tries, including a hat-trick in the opening match and some other tries against England, France and Australia. She was named New Zealand's Women's Player of the Year that year.

Hohepa was unavailable for the 2014 world cup when, after winning four straight world cups, beating England in three finals, the Black Ferns failed to make the semifinals after losing to Ireland in pool play. England triumphed in Paris.

At 32 years of age, there is no hint of Hohepa retiring.

"Far from it," says her mother. "She is pretty keen on featuring at next year's Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast."

Hohepa is now heading for Fukuoko in Japan where her husband, rugby legend Karne Hesketh, is based. She will play for a club in the Japanese sevens competition.