Rapid rise for new Black Ferns flanker Tafito Lafaele

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Named in the Black Ferns squad for the Pacific Four Series ahead of the Rugby World Cup later in the year, the Otara Pool lifeguard was already a North Island Schools shot put champion in 2018.

 

She was also part of her Botany Downs College's championship-winning basketball team.

 

That all resulted in her receiving the school's sports personality of the year award.

 

Netball and volleyball were also on her resumé.

 

But, when first exposed to rugby, it didn't grab her immediately.

 

She attended a nephew's rugby training and was kicking a ball around when her sister-in-law thought she would be able to make an impact in playing.

 

 

She didn't agree. She said she didn't like rugby and had never paid attention to it whenever it was on television.

 

But after that training session, she went to a club closer to her home, Papatoetoe Rugby Club.

 

"I went there, joined the training and remember thinking, 'Is this for me?'"

 

She decided to keep going to training, and if she found she enjoyed it, she would continue.

 

She was nervous ahead of her first game especially thinking about contact, tackles and getting hit, and whether she wanted to do that.

 

"But in the end, first hit, I got the ball and it was all good. It doesn't really hurt at the time. You don't feel the impact until after the game but I really enjoyed rugby."

 

She moved to College Rifles and, since being there, had learnt so much.

 

"The girls there have helped me immensely. College Rifles has played a big part in my footy career," she said.

 

She started as No8 when debuting for Auckland's Storm in 2019 and can also play lock. Her Sevens ability saw her play for Moana Pasifika against the Black Ferns in their pre-Olympic Games tournament.

 

She was nervous before finding out she had made the team and was speechless once hearing the news.

 

"When I got invited to camps I wasn't really expecting much. I was looking forward to soaking in all the knowledge and experience I could get with all the girls – just being among superstars," she said.

 

With the prospect of making her international debut during the upcoming series, she said: "When the opportunity does come I will be very emotional. It will be real special, but, I definitely know that when I do get the opportunity to jersey up I will play with my whole heart." 

 

Tickets are still available at all three Pacific Four Series venues, in Tauranga, Waitākere and Whangārei. Don't miss out and get your tickets HERE.

 

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