The West

There are seemingly more Kiwis per capita in Port Hedland than Christchurch, so Rei Barlow understood that news of his son playing for the All Blacks was never going to remain secret for long.

Comfortable in his own company, Barlow opted to remain in his Wedgefield donga to watch his son's much-hyped debut against Scotland on Sunday night.

It's not that the Monadelphous fly-in, fly-out worker wasn't proud - he was exceedingly chuffed - but rather, he confessed, it was a moment he wanted to soak up alone.

As he watched his boy, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, perform the Haka in All Black regalia before the side's dominant 51-22 victory at Murrayfield, Barlow couldn't help but get a little emotional.

He recalled the moment when he first held his newborn son and pondered the extraordinary things he would accomplish in his lifetime.

And the time four-year-old Tawera sat on his knee in the living room of their Darwin home and pointed to the TV screen and said, "Dad, I'm going to be an All Black".

Then there were the countless nights when his homesick son, who relocated to New Zealand to chase his dream, would call from the boarding house at Hamilton Boys' High School crying into the phone.

"I suppose every little kid has his dream but at the age of 10 Tawera definitely knew he wanted to be an All Black," Barlow said.

"He blew me away when he said to me at the end of his primary school years that he wanted to go back to New Zealand for high school so that he could be an All Black. I said to him 'son, that's all well and good but at the end of the day if you break both your legs then what are you going to do'?"

Thankfully, Tawera's legs held up and he has since put them to good use.

After leaving Australian shores at the age of 12, the Melbourne-born scrum-half swiftly worked his way up through the competitive ranks of New Zealand rugby.

He turned heads when he became the youngest student to earn a cap in the powerful Hamilton school boys' 1st XV side, and had recruiters reaching for their notepads during an exceptional IRB Junior World Championship campaign in 2010.

Indeed, Tawera's success didn't go unnoticed in his country of birth.

Former Western Force coach John Mitchell unsuccessfully tried to lure the youngster west, while Barlow said there had been probing phone calls from current Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.

But they may as well have saved their breath. According to his dad, Tawera only ever wanted to wear one guernsey.

"Australia was very much aware of him, even while he was at high school, but the fact remains he wanted to be an All Black," Barlow said.

Having played an integral role in the Waikato Chiefs' championship-winning Super Rugby side earlier this year, Barlow said his son was asked to train with the national squad during the Rugby Championship.

He missed out, but the All Blacks' spring tour of Europe loomed as Tawera's golden opportunity.

"I had guys on site telling me that he would get his chance," Barlow said. How right they were.

"He wanted to go back to New Zealand for high school so that he could be an All Black." " * Tawera Kerr-Barlow's *father *Rei Barlow *

The West Australian

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