Around the Fringes: Brackin Karauria-Henry
Photo: SPA Images
Rugby was always going to be a major part of Brackin Karauria-Henry’s life. Growing up in one of the great nurseries of the game in the Canterbury region of New Zealand’s South Island, the utility back was immersed in the sport from a young age. “My Dad and all my Uncles played rugby and a relative on Dad’s side of the family was Jimmy Mill, half-back for the All Blacks ‘Invincibles’ side of 1924. Growing up in a country where it’s the number one sport, if you weren’t a guy playing rugby then there was something wrong with you!”
He attended Christchurch Boys High, producers of a glittering alumni of rugby talent down the years – Andrew Mehrtens, Aaron Mauger and Dan Carter all notable recent graduates – and Brackin proved to be one of many of his year to also progress into the professional ranks of the game. “I played with Nasi Manu from the Highlanders and Tim Bateman and Colin Slade from the Crusaders. It’s a big rugby school, I definitely enjoyed my time there and it gave me a solid base in the game.”
Having finished as top try scorer in a world schools tournament in Japan, the rugby world appeared to be his oyster but at the age of 17, an opportunity came knocking that changed everything. He was offered the chance to move to Sydney to try out for the Cronulla Sharks rugby league team.
“It was a big decision for me and my family but I definitely wanted to give it a go, so my Mum and Dad supported me a hundred percent. When I came over initially, the first month was by myself and then, when I started school at Endeavour Sports High, my Mum and my sisters came over and supported me through my last year.”
It’s that support that Brackin values greatly and his family are never far from his thoughts. “It’s definitely number one in my life, family. My parents have always supported me, as have all my extended family and to have my Mum and my sisters with me when I first moved to Sydney was a great thing.”
However, after two years of dabbling with the ‘other’ code, the 23yr old found Rugby calling him back when he was offered a chance to tryout for the Aussie Sevens side in 2010. Going on to complete a full season on the world circuit alongside fellow Tahs Pat McCutcheon and Bernard Foley, he finished as Australia’s top try scorer, which in turn led to his Super Rugby debut at the end of the 2010 season for the ACT Brumbies, ironically against the HSBC Waratahs, at ANZ Stadium.
A few months later, he was donning the Cambridge Blue but his first year at Moore Park didn’t go according to plan. “I had a few niggles in the back during pre-season and the first week back after the Christmas break, it gave way and I pinched a nerve with a bulging disc. It required surgery that took me out for three months and it was hard for me not being around the squad on game day and at training, so it’s just good to be back amongst it.”
His aim now is to make up for lost time and his form in the pre-season trials and the early rounds of the Super Rugby competition has already given the HSBC Waratahs faithful a glimpse of what they’ve been missing. “My goals are to play as many games as I can during the season, to the best of my ability in every game, play well for the team and to repay the faith that the coaching staff have shown in me.”
And in case there were any doubts, Kiwi born he may be but he’s a dinky-di Aussie now. “I’m proud to be Australian and after loving my experience of international rugby with the Sevens, I’d love to play for the Wallabies – it was a privilege to wear the gold jersey. My Australian fiancé and I are expecting our first child in the next couple of months, Australia’s my home and I’d look to stay here after my rugby career ends and bring up my family.”
Truly, a family guy.
Original version published in the NSW Waratahs v Western Force match program on March 17th, 2012