Seven questions with … Shiray Kaka

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Congratulations on re-signing, must be super exciting given it’s an Olympics year?


Super excited to be going into this year with the girls! With not making the Olympic team last time it's definitely played on my mind since then. So, to be one step closer to going to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics feels unreal.


What’s it like to have your mate Kayla Ahki back in the mix as well?


Kayla is one of the most selfless, humble and down to earth players I have ever met. I've looked up to her ever since I started playing in this environment, not just because she's one of the best centres (if not the best) in the world, but because she always manages to rise above the bullshit and just get the job done. So, to have her with me going into this year is an absolute game changer, I wouldn't want to do it with anyone else!



What have the last couple of months been like, won the last four tournaments and to see the girls get that historic win on home soil must have been pretty incredible?


It’s honestly been so surreal, from watching in Japan to being able to train and witness their achievements in real life is unreal. The team has grown so much since I last left and to see that makes me want to work harder for each and every one of them, including the management.


How do you approach the next couple of months, you’ve been on such a high and now you don’t play again for a while, is that tough to keep momentum going?


I think that this time is really important for our team. It means we get to try new things, find out what works and then cancel out whatever doesn't before the Olympics. It’s definitely a blessing in disguise for our injured girls too, gives them time to get back to 100%. We are lucky that we have such great management and we trust them to plan out the next few weeks and continue to put us in intense situations, like we would find ourselves in at a tournament.  



We see all the highs that the team goes through, but the flipside of that, what are some of the lows that you go through as athletes?


Setbacks, injuries, having to battle with your mind each day. For example, every day you spend time with amazing teammates that you love and would do anything for, but then in training you have to compete against them and smash them in tackles. You don’t do that in any other job! Or you've had a crap sleep and you're drained but you've got to give your all at training. There are a few lows that athletes go through, but when you make the decision to go for it and play for your country it’s 100% worth it. It’s definitely been worth it so far.  


Personally, you’ve had your fair share of injuries, how tough has that been and what inspires you to keep going?


These past three years has not been easy. I've wanted to quit many times. It was only last year when I said to my husband that I wanted to start trying for babies because I had given up. Luckily, Gillies has been so supportive and made me want to keep going. Just having his last name made me want to continue his legacy as a Sevens player. Seeing the girls do well and actually enjoy their rugby too was something that I wanted really bad. So those were the two main things that kept me pushing for a spot!


Tell us something we don’t know about you?


Hmm… I am obsessed with Bread and REAL butter. If you like margarine we can't be friends. Kidding!!! Kind of.......



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