Gail Barlow had a feeling her son was going to become an All Black yesterday.
So much so that she put her construction business on hold and flew from her home in Darwin to surprise Tawera Kerr -Barlow in Hamilton - just before he was named in the All Blacks squad to tour Europe next month.
"I'd thought about it for a few weeks, but 48 hours ago I decided I would come and share what we hoped would be a happy moment," Ms Barlow said yesterday.
"I arrived last night and surprised Tawera this morning.
It was a flying visit as she heads back to the warmth of 39-degree Darwin today.
Ms Barlow, originally from Oparau, near Kawhia, has lived in Australia for the past 27 years, most of it in Northern Territory. Kerr-Barlow's father Reimana, who these days works in a Western Australia mine, is originally from Hamilton and a rugby league background. His brother Tukere Barlow represented Waikato and New Zealand Maori as well as playing for English club Warrington.
Ms Barlow was the first in the family to play international rugby at halfback, in an Australian women's team in 1995-96 after taking up the sport in Darwin.
Kerr-Barlow, 22, was playing rugby at the age of 3 and from then always wanted to be an All Black despite his mother's time in the Wallaroos.
By the time he was 13 he was even more adamant that he wanted to chase his rugby dreams in New Zealand and persuaded his parents he should return to New Zealand to go to high school.
He was sent to his father's old school Hamilton Boys' High School as a boarder with his elder brother Reimana, now a referee back in the Northern Territory.
Kerr-Barlow made a series of Waikato age group teams, New Zealand Secondary Schools, was signed by Waikato at 17 while still at school, and has since represented New Zealand Under-20, Waikato and the Chiefs.
Kerr-Barlow lived with his aunt, his mother's sister, in Hamilton when he first left school and does not lack for family support in the region, his mother says.
"I'm from a large family and Tawera's got nine or 10 aunties and uncles and I think most of them will probably come around tonight and have a toast or two because we're all very proud of him."
But there are also a lot of people happy in Darwin that they have their first All Black.
"There is a pretty big fanbase there and I've had an awful lot of phone calls this morning offering congratulations from the rugby clubs, the NTRU up there, so that's a nice touch," says Mum.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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