You are here
Home > Club Rugby > Te Kahui Bishop proud to become Northern United’s latest centurion

Te Kahui Bishop proud to become Northern United’s latest centurion

  • By Steven White.
  • Photos by Chainsaw Photos.

Soon after representing the Junior Black Sox at the U19 World Series in Canada in 2014, Te Kahui Bishop put a promising softball career on ice to pursue his other sporting love, rugby.

Bishop went down to Northern United for off-season training in the summer of 2014/15 and subsequently made his Premier debut on the wing against Wainuiomata in the opening match of the 2015 Swindale Shield season.

Apart from a couple of spells on the sideline – the first in 2018 with appendicitis and the second just this season when he injured his knee in Norths’ 31-30 win over the Upper Hutt Rams in round six – he has been a mainstay of Norths Premier squads ever since.

On Saturday, in their semi-final against Hutt Old Boys Marist at the Hutt Rec, Bishop will take the field for his 100th Premier match – and at aged 26 will join a noted list of Norths players to have reached this milestone.

Other backs to have played over 100 Premier games for Norths in recent years have included Rob Aloe, Peato ‘Cash’ Lafaele, Daley Harper, Siaosi Anamani, Adam Vardey, Perry Hayman and his current teammate Johnny Teleaga.

Bishop said that after a previously well documented slow start to the season, owing to illness/Covid/suspension/injury, Norths are happy with their form.

“The energy around the team is high and we are confident we can get the job done on Saturday if we play well, but finals footy can go either way and can come down to whoever wants it more on the day, “he said.

Bishop will know this more than many others, having been involved in Northern United teams that made the Jubilee Cup final in consecutive years in 2018, 2019 and 2020 – winning in 2019.

The last time Norths met Saturday’s opposition HOBM in a playoff match was the 2018 semi-final and Norths won 41-26, going on to lose 31-27 to OBU in that year’s final. Should Norths win on Saturday they will play either Petone or Tawa in the final the following Saturday.

Bishop said their knockout match this past Saturday against Marist St Pat’s was a tough affair. Norths ripped out to a big lead and then MSP came roaring back.

“It was a nail-biting game, good for the fans, I guess! They got an intercept try and they were leading 22-21 but we dug deep to score a couple of tries.” Norths won 35-29.

HOBM are coming off a 24-19 win over Poneke in their most recent match a fortnight ago and beat Norths 25-10 when they met way back in round one. But that result will count for little.

Bishop was already an elite sportsman when he arrived at Norths for the start of the 2015 season, lining as a centre fielder for the Junior Black Sox team that lost to Argentina in the finals of the 2014 U19 World Championships.

“I grew up in a softball family, playing rugby in the winter and softball in the summer. My mother played for New Zealand, my father [Les] was a Wellington representative – and played No. 8 for the Porirua rugby club back in the day – my brothers have also played for the Junior Black Sox, my brother Te Wera is currently in the [senior] Black Sox and in 2011 he spent time with the Boston Red Sox and later Milwaukee Brewers playing baseball,  in the feeder system.”

Why did Te Kahui stop playing softball? “To play at that level it takes up a lot of time and I wanted to give rugby a go. I knew after my Junior World Series in 2014 that is what I wanted to do so I joined Norths that summer.”

He started playing for the Porirua City United softball team when he was 13 and played over 100 games for them but hasn’t played softball since – although does want to play again and wants to play with his brothers again in the future.

Originally Bishop was on track to play his 100th match earlier this season alongside prop Jerome Vaai but he picked up a MCL knee injury during the one-point win against the Upper Hutt Rams.

The injury sidelined him for seven weeks, ironically corresponding to the team’s run of wins that saw them storm home to finish fourth in the Swindale Shield.

“I did it cleaning out a ruck, I was doubtful if I was going to get to my 100 games this year when that happened. I played one game for the Premier Reserves but came back to play Paremata-Plimmerton in the last round of Swindale, then Petone and MSP.”

He started at the club in 2015 alongside prop Gerard Faitotoa who is the same age as him. “We were the young ones in the team when we first started. He would have got there before me but moved to Australia, so he is sitting on 97 games.”

As well as his teenaged softball career, Bishop played First XV rugby at Mana College in 2012 and 2013.

“I was always a centre at school, but when I came to Norths after my year off in 2014, I played on the wing initially, then wing and centre. Last year I played every game at second five and this year I have played second five, centre and both wings.”

He said he will happily play anywhere where the team needs him, noting the high amount of talent that passes through the club.

“That is where Norths have always been strong, having players that can fill in elsewhere if players go down or are unavailable, so I am pleased to play my part.”

He said having Jackson Garden-Bachop back is a huge plus. “I always love playing with him, he played a lot in my early Norths career when he wasn’t a contracted player. His rugby-intelligence and his skillset are terrific.”

Another player he enjoys playing alongside is fullback Johnny Teleaga. “I love playing with Johnny, he is one player that plays the game with any type of injury! I have seen him play with a pulled hamstring, a rolled ankle and more, but I always feel confident when he is out there with me no matter his state of fitness.”

Asked to nominate a memorable match he said the 2019 Jubilee Cup semi-final against Tawa at Lyndhurst Park was a big result to be part of. “We were losing 17-5 at halftime and we came back and won 18-17.”

“I love playing against Tawa, in part because my first cousin Randall Bishop plays for them. It is always good to face him.” Tawa’s fullback Randall Bishop recently played his 150th Premier game and his brother Evan also had a brief stint playing for Norths over a decade ago.

Te Kahui  also played a fair bit of sevens for Norths, part of the team that won the 2019 National Club Sevens title and has been in the wider Wellington representative sevens squad.

Bishop is busy during the week working for Wellington Water on the maintenance team and lives with his partner and daughter.

Jubilee Cup semi-finals this Saturday (both kicking off at 2.15pm):

  • Hutt Old Boys Marist v Northern United, Hutt Rec.
  • Petone v Tawa, Petone Rec.

Te Kahui Bishop runs in a try against Old Boys University at home at Porirua Park in 2020.

Similar Articles

Leave a Reply