Two years ago Charmaine Smith retired from rugby, but now she’s back and tells Rikki Swannell she is keen to play for the Black Ferns in this year’s World Cup.
Charmaine Smith had pretty much given up. Sure, she’d kept a few bits of rugby gear in a box, but most of it, she’d given away.
A bulging disc in her back that was pressing on her spinal cord had seemingly put an end to a career that had seen her play 27 tests, with Black Ferns coach Glenn Moore commenting on her retirement.
“She’s made a huge contribution to the legacy of the Black Ferns and she can be enormously proud of her rugby career,” Moore said in 2020. “Her family has always been Charmaine’s motivation and I’m sure they are all thrilled with all that she has achieved in the black jersey."
Except, that wasn’t how it ended. Smith, 31, who was a key part of the Black Ferns 2017 World Cup winning team has a second chance. And the Blues Super Rugby Aupiki lock is eager to be back in black, especially with the World Cup in New Zealand this year.
So how is it that her retirement has been, well, retired?
Since her initial diagnosis in early 2020 Smith had kept in touch with specialists and had undergone various scans which had shown her bulging disc had shrunk, but she’d also moved on with her life, focusing on work as a police officer and shifting back home to Whangarei with her partner Tamati. They welcomed daughter Amiria in October.
Booked in for an MRI check up eight days after Amiria’s birth, Smith and her mum, with newborn Amiria in tow, headed to a locked down Auckland for what would turn out to be a surprising and defining appointment with the specialist.
Continue this story in our Apr/May issue.
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