Teen to don sevens black jersey
Fast flyer Tyla Nathan-Wong will pull on the black jersey for the sevens this week for the first time as the youngest player in the New Zealand women's team.
The Blockhouse Bay teen has made the national side for the upcoming season.
"It's pretty cool," Tyla says.
"I love the game so much. It's fast and you have more space to work with when compared with 15-a-side rugby."
Tyla, 18, started playing sevens last year and is no stranger to competition on the world stage.
She represented the Aotearoa Maori Women's sevens team in May at the Roma sevens tournament in Italy which they won.
She also played for the New Zealand women's touch team at the Touch Rugby World Cup 2011 in Scotland, the youngest player on the team.
Tyla's mother Deanne is confident in her daughter's abilities.
"Tyla's on a very strict diet thanks to the support from New Zealand rugby. The work these girls do fitness-wise is just incredible.
"Tyla's very focused and works hard at it," she says.
Tyla and the team are in Fiji for the Oceania Women's Sevens Championship, which also doubles as a World Cup 2013 qualifier, taking place today and tomorrow.
"The pressure's on and I have to perform," says Tyla.
"There are no guarantees and there are always other players ready to step up and take your spot."
New Zealand has already qualified for the 2013 Rugby Sevens World Cup in Moscow but will be keen to test their mettle against the world's best in Fiji in preparation for the 2012-13 sevens circuit beginning in Dubai in December.
Tyla's also looking to the future, particularly the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 where rugby sevens will be introduced.
"That's definitely a long-term goal for me," she says.