Travelling the world doing what you love has to be a great feeling. For Bay of Plenty representative and Black Fern Renee Wickliffe, that's exactly what rugby provides her with. In this week's Behind the Name feature we get to know Wickliffe a little more beyond her obvious talents on the rugby field - and what it was about playing rugby in freezing conditions and without boots as a child that made her fall in love with the sport.
Do you have any nicknames?
Pango. I've been called this since I was a kid. It started from a few cousins using the name. I guess I was that lucky kid that got named Pango, and it has stuck ever since.
What is the first memory you have of rugby and how has that impacted your life?
Playing rugby as a young kid in the freezing cold with no boots, playing alongside the boys. Back then it was about enjoyment, eating oranges at half-time, turning up to every game when it's freezing cold or raining, playing against boys because you're competitive. That has impacted my life because it has allowed me to appreciate the game, kept me active. I was able to make new friends and I enjoyed it.
What is it that you love about rugby?
I love rugby because I love the physical aspect of it. I love meeting new people, travelling around the world to play the game, the skill set of the game, the competitiveness, the culture and the way it has grown over the past years. Last but not least, the opportunity to give back to our communities and the young kids coming through.
What is your sporting highlight to date and why?
There's a few. But one would have to be winning 2010 Rugby World Cup. My first ever World Cup, and it was a close final. But winning against England in England was the icing on the cake.
What has been the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you on the field at any level?
After having a baby and going straight back into it, you soon realise that you have a weak bladder when you get tackled really hard. Haha oops!
What has been the biggest injury suffered on the field?
I've been pretty lucky so far, I haven't had any major breaks or massive injuries. One recently would have to be: my left knee got twisted in a tackle and I had to have surgery on it. I was back running again about four months later.
What is the best advice you have been given when it comes to playing rugby and who gave it to you?
Mike Daley, my former touch coach, taught me to get fit. You can't always rely on your talent.
If you weren't playing rugby what would you be doing?
Full-time mother or police officer.
When you're not playing or training, what are you doing?
Hanging with my family/my daughter, chilling at home or [I'll] try get somewhere away from rugby with my little family.
Who is your favourite athlete in any code and level, and why?
Lebron James. Not only is he good at basketball but he achieved his vision by giving back to his community and created a school for kids.
What was your very first job and what other jobs have you had in your lifetime?
Very first job was working with Sport Waikato delivering holiday programmes for kids. I also did part-time relief milking on farms. Teacher aide/mentor at Paeroa College. Warehouse distributor, pick/packer for Toll in2store. Part-time contracted rugby player.
What did your parents want you to be when you were younger?
I guess a good person. And a hard worker. I don't remember them talking to me about what I wanted to be when I was younger.
What is something you would tell your 16-year-old self?
Follow your instinct, don't be that follower and end up down the wrong path. Take every opportunity with two hands and make the most of it. Don't try to be cool because everyone else is. Seek your goal and keep striving for it.
What has been your biggest personal achievement and why?
I have a few, 2009 Maori Sportswomen of the Year - I was up against some top athletes in the country. I could not believe I had won it.
My biggest achievement would have to be having my daughter, Kaia. She has changed my life in so many ways. Mentally, and emotionally, she motivates me in everything I do.
My mother was a hardworking lady and, if I can show my daughter how to become resilient, hardworking and kind, that in itself is my personal achievement handed down.
What five words do you think your closest friends would use to describe you?
Cheeky, loving, kind, hardworking, shy.
Where is your favourite place in the Bay and why?
Mount Maunganui itself is pretty beautiful. Can't really complain because anywhere here is nice. The beach would have to be the spot. Shoes off, feet in the sand connecting with the earth. Sound of the waves taking your mind off rugby and anything else that's going on in your mind. Swimming and surfing is another way I like to relax.
Tell us three things people may not know about you:
Played touch for New Zealand.
Scared of heights.
Women's Rugby Super Series 2019 in San Diego, USA:
Black Ferns v Canada, June 29.
Black Ferns v USA, July 3.
Black Ferns v France, July 7.
Black Ferns v England, July 15.