Andrew Alderson

Andrew Alderson is a sport writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Rugby sevens: Top scoring Portia owes it all to her mum and dad

The New Zealand men's and women's sevens sides with their trophies after winning the Rugby Sevens World Cups at Luzhniki stadium in Moscow. Photo / AP
The New Zealand men's and women's sevens sides with their trophies after winning the Rugby Sevens World Cups at Luzhniki stadium in Moscow. Photo / AP

"Just get the ball and run like hell."

Portia Woodman followed her parents' succinct advice in her performances for the New Zealand women's sevens team yesterday on their way to World Cup glory. The men won their final too.

Woodman topped the try-scoring ranks with 12 and received an award for those efforts at the International Rugby Board dinner celebrating the tournament.

Originally from Northland, Woodman moved to Auckland with her family in 1997 when her Dad, 1984 All Black Kawhena, completed his teaching degree. Woodman says her Dad always jokes he is "world famous in Kaikohe" but she has learned a thing or two off him, judging by her sidestep which was a tournament highlight. It resembled a female version of Bryan Williams in his pomp.

"I've been learning off Kelly Brazier, she's 'the man' in our team. Netball probably helps as well. It's nice when it comes off but teamwork is the most important thing. My job is just to finish things."

Woodman is a former Northern Mystics netballer who used to weave her way around the mid-court, so it all makes sense.

Her pace helped New Zealand score another try in the final to take them to a decisive 24-12 lead; Portia might as well have been Porsche.

"I wish my parents had been here but they're saving up to go to Rio. In fact they'll probably go even if I don't get picked," Woodman said. "They've been a massive influence for me as well as my older and younger brothers. We're all diehard rugby fans but my ultimate goal is the Olympics."

Woodman hopes to debut for the Black Ferns in their three-test series against England, starting July 13 at Eden Park. Teammate Kayla McAlister was named Women's Sevens Player of the Year, ahead of fellow finalists Jennifer Kish of Canada and Kelly van Harskamp of the Netherlands.

The men's award went to New Zealand's Tim Mikkelson, named IRB Sevens Player of the Year.

•Andrew Alderson travelled to Moscow with the assistance of New Zealand Rugby.

- NZ Herald

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