Kaiapoi Bulldogs junior Matt Duffie played one Test for New Zealand during an injury-interrupted six-season NRL tenure with Melbourne Storm, before switching codes and becoming the first Canterbury-bred dual New Zealand rugby league and rugby union international in more than 80 years.
Duffie, who also played for Pakuranga Jaguars in Auckland, linked with Melbourne in 2008 after being scouted by the NRL powerhouse while playing for First XV rugby for Saint Kentigern College. He was part of the Storm’s NYC team’s premiership victory in 2009, scoring a try in the Grand Final win over Wests Tigers.
The 19-year-old earned a first-grade call-up for the 2010 Anzac Day showdown with the Warriors, scoring a memorable double on debut in a 40-6 blowout. He scored eight tries in 14 appearances as one of the season’s more impressive rookies.
Duffie’s ascent to rugby league’s heights was complete when, after just 20 NRL appearances (and 14 tries), he was called up to make his New Zealand Test debut against Australia in May 2011. Duffie scored a try in the Kiwis’ 20-10 loss to the Kangaroos on the Gold Coast, as well as becoming the first Kiwi to graduate from Kaiapoi Bulldogs’ junior ranks.
It would be his only Test appearance, however, as injuries gradually began to dog the youngster’s career, ruling him out of the Storm’s charge to the 2012 premiership and restricting him to just four games in the space of three years.
Duffie returned admirably in the latter stages of the 2015 season – featuring in Melbourne’s finals campaign – before signing a deal with Super Rugby franchise the Blues, leaving behind an NRL record of 37 tries in 62 games.
Starring at wing and fullback for the Blues and North Harbour, Duffie was an injury replacement on the All Blacks’ 2017 end-of-season tour, featuring in non-Test fixtures against the Barbarians and a French XV to become the first Canterbury product to represent the Kiwis and All Blacks since 1920s dual code forward Lou Petersen.
NEW ZEALAND (2011)
1 Test – 1 try (4 points)