RUGBY: 'Surprise' callup for rising star

SHANE HURNDELL
The ``little girl from Eskview' or Shaan Waru as she is better known now is in the limelight again.
Waru and her Hawke's Bay women's rugby and league teammate Maia Tua-Davidson are in the Kiwi Ferns side which will attempt to retain the women's rugby league World Cup in Brisbane next month.
Now 18 Waru was dubbed the ``little girl from Eskview' during her junior rugby days when she went through the sixth to 11th grade teams with Eskview. It wasn't uncommon for opposing coaches including Yours Truly to double team her so her freedom would be restricted.
She was always going to kick on and she definitely did.
Waru became the youngest player to make the Hawke's Bay Tuis side when she was first selected three seasons ago and also became the youngest player, male or female, to play at the Hong Kong Sevens.
The Central Hawke's Bay farmhand was in the 2006 and 2007 Aotearoa side which won Hong Kong Sevens titles. She rates her Kiwi Ferns selection as more of a highlight than her Aotearoa selections.
``With the Sevens I knew I had a chance. But the Kiwi Ferns was so unexpected,' said Waru who will play standoff.
Although she is capable of breaking into the world champion Black Ferns rugby side within the next two years it is no longer a priority for her.
``Now I'm in the Kiwi Ferns the aim is to stay in there,' added Waru.
Karamu High School teacher Tua-Davidson, 23, also regards league as her No.1 sport.
``It has a bit more structure and you've got more space to operate in. There aren't as many stoppages too,' said Tua-Davidson who will play loose forward.
Their EITSA and Hawke's Bay women's coach Alan Mason is confident the duo will perform well in Brisbane.
``Shaan was one of the fittest in her group at the last camp for the side and Maia was one of the fittest forwards.
Hopefully the fact these two have got to the top will encourage more of our Bay players to give it a go.' Kiwi Ferns coach Stan Martin described Tua-Davidson as ``a machine.'
``She has the skills and speed similar to that of a young Ruben Wiki.

Maia can play anywhere in the backs and has an enormous workload when playing in the forwards ... she will be a real asset to New Zealand women's rugby league over the next few years,' said Martin.
Mason said Waru impressed the national selectors with her razzle-dazzle, accurate kicking and all-round skills at standoff. While Waru can play anywhere in the backs she could also handle a switch to the forwards if required.
One of the fastest Kiwi Ferns, Waru, won the women's sprint at the 2006 national Maori league tournament.
Manawatu-based Kristina Sue, an EITSA teammate of Tua-Davidson and Waru, is the third member of the Hawke's Bay side in the Kiwi Ferns team. Sue is a former New Zealand touch representative and can play hooker, scrumhalf or standoff at league.
``Kristina is five foot nothing but her size doesn't deter her any as she usually clocks up 30 plus tackles a game,' said Mason. Sue's Manawatu team, like the Tuis, were beaten semi-finalists in the women's rugby NPC.
The Kiwi Ferns go into camp in Auckland on Tuesday. Their World Cup which will be played in conjunction with the Police World Cup and parts of the men's World Cup starts on November 5.
The final will be played on November 15 as a curtainraiser to the men's semi-finals at Suncorp Stadium.
The eight women's teams have been divided into two pools of four.
New Zealand is in the same pool as Tonga, Samoa and a Pacific Nations team.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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