Masoe back in maroon

Thursday, Apr 22 2021

Masoe back in maroon

Will Johnston

Chris Masoe never thought he would pull on the Inglewood jersey again, until Saturday.

The former All Black and Taranaki loose forward (pictured with bandaged arm) was a late call-up for his club in the CMK Taranaki premier club rugby competition and named on the bench against Southern.

It will be his first game of rugby in four years with his last appearance for Inglewood in 2005, a year before he moved to Wellington.

During his career, the 41-year-old played 20 matches for the All Blacks, 41 for Taranaki and represented three overseas clubs before turning his hand to coaching.

Masoe moved back to Taranaki with his wife Gemma and two sons, Liam and Max when Covid disrupted his coaching role in France last year.

He decided to help Inglewood coaches Ngatai Walker and Jason Hooper.

But come Saturday, Masoe was named on the bench after the team lost players to injury in the first two weeks of the competition.

“Ngatai asked me if I was keen to play. I’d do anything for that club and do anything for those kids,” he said.

“I enjoyed every minute of it. But I would prefer to tell the boys what to do, rather than show them,” he quipped.  

Spectators were confused about his playing position. He was listed to wear the number one jersey in the programme instead of number six, seven or eight, but in fact, it was the only jersey that could fit his 106kg frame.  

He replaced starting No. 8 Johnny Faletogoai-Malase with 20 minutes to play in the 50-28 win at TET Stadium.

Masoe made a couple of crunching tackles close to his try line.  

He also realised he used to play rugby with the fathers of a number of players.

After the game, Masoe said the body recovered well.

“I went for a walk on Sunday and back to my normal duties as a father. The body is sweet.”

The club appreciates Masoe’s commitment and he is occasionally asked to help out at Inglewood High School.

Masoe was overseas for 11 years and he said changes in the club environment is obvious.

“The way things are running now is more structured and [there’s] some really good plans and goals for the future of the club. A lot’s been changed and I’m pretty excited about helping out.”

He said there is a strong culture in Taranaki.

“Afterwards you can shake hands, have a beer, have a feed, that’s what I’ve missed for the last 11 years.”

For this weekend against Stratford/Eltham, Masoe said he didn't think he wouldn't be required.   

Photo: Leah Chilcott