From Mystics to the Black Ferns

CODE SWITCH: Rawinia Everitt decided to take a break from one sport only to get called up for the 2011 Black Ferns.
CODE SWITCH: Rawinia Everitt decided to take a break from one sport only to get called up for the 2011 Black Ferns.

In just her second season playing rugby, Rawinia Everitt has been picked to represent New Zealand in the Black Ferns squad to tour England.

The 25-year-old Counties Manukau District Health Board employee has been named in the 26-women squad to play a three-test series against England this month.

It is a remarkable achievement for the former Mystics netball player who only switched codes and started playing rugby early last year.

"I decided to have a break from netball and reassess my goals so I started playing rugby instead.

"I started training and next minute I'm stepping up. I went from having a break and now I'm in the New Zealand women's rugby team going to England.

"I honestly didn't think I was good enough so I was shocked to be picked. In my head I was like: `No way, how has this happened'?"

But there is little time for reflection.

Unlike their English counterparts, the Black Ferns players are unpaid. Everitt is fitting intense training sessions around her fulltime job as a booking co-ordinator for Counties Manukau District Health Board's interpreting and translation service.

"I'm lucky that everyone here at work is really supportive of me and my life outside my job. They were happy as when I got named."

After finishing work at 3pm, she heads to the gym for weights and cardiovascular sessions. She also tries to fit in an early morning run.

"I'm training at least three hours a day, six days a week because I'm always thinking about what the England girls are doing.

"I have very little experience but if I can match them with power and skill and speed, then I'm three-quarters of the way there.

"The whole game's new to me, especially at this level. I'm catching up pretty quickly."

Everitt, who plays in the forward pack, was part of the 2011 national provincial championship winning team the Auckland Storm and is playing sevens for Auckland Marist.

The Black Ferns go into training camp on November 17, three days before heading to England where their itinerary includes playing a test at Twickenham.

"Playing there is going to be massive," she says.

"I'm so chuffed being in the national team and getting these opportunities. It'll be a pretty special moment to pull on the black jersey and sing the national anthem. I'm really looking forward to it."

Asked if she will consider a return to netball, which she had been playing for several years, Everitt says she thinks she will stick with rugby.

"I love the game and the new challenges. I'm really competitive, I love the confrontation and I'm always in the thick of things so I'll be fighting to stay off the bench on tour.

"I just want to get out there and see what the English girls are made of."

Manukau Courier