Alley stirs into action after surprise callup

AARON GOILE
Last updated 05:00 27/11/2012
Chelsea Alley
BRUCE MERCER/Faifax NZ
ON THE BURST: Waikato’s Chelsea Alley received a surprise callup to the Black Ferns.

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Chelsea Alley was yesterday lying in bed contemplating how "boring" her day was going to be.

Instead, it quickly turned into one of her most exciting, after she hurriedly packed a suitcase and boarded a plane to England, fancying the prospect of a Black Ferns debut at Twickenham.

The 19-year-old first five-eighth, born and bred in Tokoroa, has been called up to the world champion New Zealand women's team, who are in the midst of a three-test series against England.

The Waikato Times spoke to Alley about three hours after she received the call from a New Zealand Rugby Union staff member asking if she was able to join the tour.

At that time she was still unaware why she had been called in, although it soon emerged it was because young Otago first five-eighth Victoria Nafatali, who debuted off the bench in Saturday's (NZ time) first test, had had her tour cut short after suffering a knee strain.

After the good news at about 9am, Alley's day turned hectic.

"My phone's been going crazy," she said.

After packing, she had to organise to get to the adidas outfitters in Auckland to collect her gear, then had to be at the airport at 8pm, flying out at 10.45pm to Los Angeles, where she was to stop for a few hours before heading to London.

Alley is the second Waikato player in the 26-strong squad, along with Teresa Te Tamaki, who didn't feature in the 16-13 loss in the first test at Esher Rugby Football Club in Surrey.

Having made the wider Black Ferns squad this year, Alley was in the mix but didn't think her opportunity would come so soon.

"The coach [Brian Evans] said to me before the squad was named that he still thought I was a little bit too young to be brought in at this stage and maybe if I kept going that I'd be in next year," Alley said. "But he told me that I'm next in if something happens."

That something did happen and Alley is thankful she hadn't wound down her training since the NPC finished last month.

"I've still been training right through because I'm in the Waikato sevens team, so that kept me fit and stuff," she said.

Alley played for Auckland in the NPC last year, before being able to represent Waikato on their return to the competition this season.

She will arrive less than a day before the second test against England - which is tomorrow morning (NZ time) at Army Rugby Stadium in Aldershot, Hampshire - and has been left out of the 22.

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That leaves her one opportunity to make her mark - in the third test on Sunday morning (NZ time) - which will be played at the historic Twickenham ground immediately after the All Blacks' test against England.

"This time yesterday [Sunday] I never thought I'd ever be going there," Alley said of the 82,000-capacity stadium. "It's very exciting.

"I wouldn't be upset if I didn't get on the field. It would just be good to be in the environment and hopefully get some experience for the next two years because my goal is to be at the 2014 World Cup in France."

The Black Ferns have won the past four World Cups, beating England in the final of the most recent three.

aaron.goile@waikatotimes.co.nz

- Waikato

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