A Canterbury star in both rugby codes, Charntay Poko’s shift to the ARL club scene in 2019 catapulted her into the Kiwi Ferns and Warriors NRLW line-ups.
The slick playmaker was a linchpin of the dominant Papanui Tigers side in the Canterbury Rugby League women’s premiership, as well as simultaneously representing her province in the 13- and 15-a-side games.
Poko was named in the Warriors’ inaugural squad in 2018, but she was ruled out of the campaign after it was revealed she had two broken tibias – stress fractures that had developed into full breaks.
But she recovered in time for the 2019 ARL club season, flying from Christchurch to Auckland every week to play for Richmond Roses, including their Grand Final loss to Papakura Sisters. Poko kicked four goals and produced a try-assist on Test debut in the Kiwi Ferns’ mid-season defeat of Fetu Samoa.
The 23-year-old was then one of the standouts of the 2019 NRLW premiership. Immediately garnering attention for her prodigious kicking game, Poko booted a 40-30 that led to the Warriors’ first try and scored one herself in the Round 1 win over Sydney Roosters. She was nominated for the Dally M Women’s Player of the Year award.
Poko was part of New Zealand’s victorious World Cup Nines squad, while she retained the No.6 jersey for the subsequent Test loss to Australia.
Sydenham Swans benefitted from Poko’s return to the CRL women’s competition in 2020, surging to a convincing Grand Final win over Woolston Rams on the back of her classy ball-playing, powerful running game and goalkicking. She was selected in the New Zealand Universities and Tertiary Students Rugby League side at the end of the year.
Poko was the fulcrum of another Swans premiership in 2021, while her brilliance with the ball in hand or on the boot was the standout individual feature of the NZRL National Women’s Competition, which Canterbury won.