McKay hungry for Ferns recall
A year out of the game hasn't slowed down Manawatu Cyclones captain Ruth McKay at all and now she is looking to regain her spot in the national team.
The loosehead prop last played for the Black Ferns in 2010 before having last year off for the Coast to Coast.
She came 11th in the open women's two-day event.
She returned to rugby this year and now the Manawatu captain is nearing a recall to the Black Ferns for their three-test tour to England in November and December.
"If it comes it comes," she said.
"If it doesn't it doesn't.
"If I don't make the team, it will make me that much more determined to make the team [next year]."
The former Taihape College student said the Black Ferns squad is being named after the national provincial competition final and she would be waiting for the call.
She's received feedback from the national selectors this year with a couple of things to work on, including scrummaging and fitness, but that is something all players have been told to improve.
But the 26-year-old was happy with her form after a year away from the game even though the physicality had been challenging.
"The club season took a bit to get into again. Got back into these hard games. These provincial games are a step up again."
Another reason she took the year off last season was the one hour 45 minute trip it takes her to get from where she works as a shepherd near Hunterville to Palmerston North for training and games for Kia Toa and Manawatu.
"I wanted the year off after the  World Cup. I was sick of travelling from here to Palmerston North and back again. It's pretty time-consuming. You get tired just training, let alone having to put three hours on top of that."
Now she was back in the team she said it was up to the experienced players like her and Selica Winiata to help younger players to find their feet.
The last time the Black Ferns played in New Zealand was in 2007, which was when McKay made her debut against England in Whanganui.
England are touring New Zealand again next year and she said it would be awesome to play for the Black Ferns on home turf again and she will be working hard if she misses out this year.
McKay will be hoping to carry on her form this weekend against Hawke's Bay in Manawatu's final game of the season in Napier tomorrow.
A win should see Manawatu finish in fourth spot ahead of Waikato and they will be confident after they thrashed Hawke's Bay 50-7 in pre-season.
McKay said Hawke's Bay have "had their hearts broken" with a few losses like Manawatu, so they won't be taking them lightly.
But Manawatu will be favourites against the winless side and, with their dangerous backline, they could put up another big score.