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George and Kayla Whitelock’s baby joy

The Kiwi sports stars welcome a gorgeous wee girl
George and Kayla Whitelock's baby joy

With four strapping rugby players on one side of the family, it seemed a safe bet that the offspring of former Crusaders and Canterbury flanker George Whitelock and his wife, former Black Sticks captain Kayla Whitelock, would be a boy.

But little Addison Marie Whitelock surprised everyone when she arrived at 7.05pm on April 27.

“It was definitely a shock,” says George, smiling down at his perfect pink-clad bundle, who shares her mum’s delicate features. “We were both so sure we were having a boy! But our main concern was that she was fit and healthy.”

Former All Black George, 29, grew up throwing around the oval ball with his three brothers – former Crusader Adam, 28, and All Blacks Sam, 26, and Luke, 24 – but when it comes to precious bundles, nothing beats cradling his first-born child.

“It was pretty cool holding Addi for the first time,” marvels the sportsman-turned-dairy farmer, who married fellow Palmerston North native Kayla, 29, in December 2013. “It’s one of those moments that you just never forget.”

As for the name Addison? “Kayla quite liked it and it kind of grew on me,” says George. “Because we didn’t know what we were having, we had a couple of each up our sleeves. Marie is Kayla’s middle name.”

As the couple dote on their daughter, it’s clear that they already have set roles. George admits he stays well away from the nappies.

“Kayla’s got things under control. And we also have two first-time grandmothers waiting at the door for any excuse,” tells George. “Addi’s just starting to find her voice. She’s a really good sleeper at night. We’re pretty happy about that!”

The couple had been in Japan – where George was playing for the Panasonic Wild Knights – for only a short time when they discovered that Kayla was pregnant. “I kind of had a feeling,” she admits.

Nothing to hide!

The early days of the pregnancy, in the “traditional” rural Japanese city of Ota, north of Tokyo, were “a bit tricky” as they didn’t speak the language.

“George spoke to some of the foreigners on the team and by chance, one of their wives was pregnant,” says Kayla. “They spoke good Japanese, so they took us under their wing.

“Around week seven, the smell of Japanese food didn’t go down too well, but other than that, I was fine.”

With George playing one week on and one week off, the couple were able to explore their adopted homeland, with highlights including a trip to Mount Fuji and riding the super-fast bullet trains.

But some local traditions were difficult to get used to. In Japan, Kayla tells, “Once you start showing, you can’t go to the gym. You’re meant to just stay at home pretty much and do nothing.”

By the time George had completed his first season with Panasonic, Kayla was 32 weeks pregnant and they decided it was time to move back home. They settled into a rural Linton farm cottage, near George’s parents Braedon and Caroline, which will be their HQ until they’ve built their own farmhouse nearby.

But good things are worth waiting for, they say. Even little Addison’s arrival took a bit longer than expected.

As the due date approached, the first-time parents tried everything in the book to induce labour. “I even took her for a ride up and down some bumpy roads,” George laughs.

It seemed to do did the trick – Kayla’s contractions started a few hours later. They arrived at Palmerston North hospital on a Monday afternoon. “I was on the bed the whole time because Addi’s heart rate was so high,” says Kayla. George never left her side.

“It was just like calving a cow!” jokes the new dad, as the room erupts into laughter. It’s a cheeky nod to his new direction as a full-time dairy farmer – helping out his parents on their sprawling property.

“I really enjoy it,” he says.

“We’re about to calve 2000 cows, so that’s going to be pretty full on for the next few weeks.”

He’s out on the farm from 5am until early evening, while Kayla tends to Addison and makes sure her hubby doesn’t go hungry during his breaks.

But while George may be winding down his rugby career, former Black Sticks captain Kayla isn’t ready to hang up her hockey stick just yet. She’s started training again – “a rude awakening after the last few months”, she laughs. “But I’m determined to get back to peak fitness again!”

Her sights are set on the National Hockey League and, beyond that, the 2016 Olympics at Rio – “the icing on the cake,” she muses.

It’s still too early to tell whether Addison will be a rugby star or a hockey player, but her miniature Black Sticks T-shirt and Crusaders booties prove she’s already in prime position for either.

“We don’t mind either way,” says George, grinning at Addison. “Whatever she wants to do in life, we’ll support her.”

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