Motueka's schoolgirl sevens star Risaleaana Pouri-Lane steps closer to black jersey
Risaleaana Pouri-Lane is well aware that years of hard work stand between her and the Olympic Games.
But at the same time, she's closer than ever to realising her dream of representing New Zealand on the grandest stage of them all.
The 16-year-old Motueka High School student recently travelled to Japan for six competitive games with the Black Ferns development sevens team, marking another significant milestone in her already promising sporting career.
"It was a real good eye opener," Pouri-Lane said of the overseas experience.
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"It's definitely the next level but it was cool to be able to play with some more experienced girls because there were three contracted girls on the tour as well so it was good to get their input."
Despite her youth and size, weighing 61kg and standing 1.67m tall, Pouri-Lane was the star of the Tasman team that competed at the National 7s earlier in the year. It was her performances in Rotorua that landed her an invite to join New Zealand's 100-strong wider training squad, continuing to impress there as she earned a call-up to the Black Ferns development team.
Pouri-Lane has only played the sport for five years and is surprised by her rapid rise but credits a lot of her success to the programme at Motueka High School, who are consistently high achievers at the Condor 7s.
"I would never pick myself to be where I am now."
Though she was the only schoolgirl in the squad, New Zealand development coach Kane Jury said Pouri-Lane was a standout on tour. He said her name would already have featured in many conversations between Black Ferns selectors and he wouldn't be surprised if she gets her first cap within the next 18 months.
"One word to describe Risi is confident," Jury said.
"She's confident in her own ability. Confident under pressure. Nothing really fazes her which is pretty awesome.
"But if you look at the other end of the scale, where does her talent go from here? When you've got a girl so confident at her age and playing at that level, well the world is her oyster now."
Pouri-Lane has already represented New Zealand at judo and touch and competed nationally in sprinting and javelin before focusing on her sevens commitments.
Jury said you couldn't pick a better combination to mould a rugby player.
"I think that's something, because she's excelled in all of that, it's why she's where she is and sits where she does at the moment.
"The more that we can get, with the boys and girls, having multi sport backgrounds, we're a forced to be reckoned with in the future."
"There's heaps of upcoming and talented girls that will be fighting for that same spot as well so it's going to be challenging but I just need to express myself when I play and work hard, hopefully the results will come," she said.
"My family are very supportive and I don't think I would be where I am now without them or the girls in our school team that continue to impress with our achievements the past five years."
Pouri-Lane will be in action with Motueka at the South Island secondary schools sevens championships in Timaru this week.