When it comes to getting on the field, the last year has not been kind to Black Ferns Sevens star Portia Woodman.
Finally making her return from an Achilles tendon injury at the Oceania Sevens tournament earlier this month, she was dealt another cruel blow, suffering a hamstring strain which will keep her out for a further eight weeks, which means missing the Dubai and Cape Town legs of the HSBC World Sevens Series next month.
The team will also be without Michaela Blyde, who is sidelined with a lower leg injury, but both players are targeting a return from injury at the Hamilton Sevens.
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Watching Woodman speak to media during a training run at Blake Park in Mount Maunganui today, you would not know she had suffered such disappointment. The famous smile was on full display throughout.
"We had the scan last week and got it confirmed that I had a bit of damage to the hammy. It's an eight week rehab but I've done a year before so eight weeks is easy," Woodman says.
"I've come back from such a bigger injury - the Achilles rupture. I was hoping to get myself right before it got to this point but these things happen," she said.
Being injured means a lot of individual rehabilitation, forced to watch on as the rest of the team take part in full training, but Woodman said there were always silver linings.
"If I wasn't out here I'd be inside on the watt bike getting smashed on that. There's the silver lining, it's nice to be outside, being able to watch the girls - it's hard but I'm grateful I can actually run."
One way Woodman has kept busy during her year-long injury layoff has been through study, completing the first year of a carpentry apprenticeship - inspired by her father.
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"My dad's a bit of a tutū, he loves to build things and I loved hanging out with him whenever he did it. It kind of just came from there - something outside of rugby but still outdoors.
"I'm not an academic so I'm not going to be sitting in a school studying something for four years that I'd be really passionate about but that's just not me. Just being able to go outside and build things with my hands and create that whānau environment is more me.
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Today the sis and I passed a three unit internal assessment that goes towards a carpentry apprenticeship🔨 🥳 . . . . . . . . We wanted a challenge and we definitely found one🥴😂 Fitting study of something so different around our trainings and other commitments isn’t always easy but it feels good to achieve in something outside of rugby that requires focus, effort and personal development. Thank you to the @hpsportnz PM scholarship for making this study possible and thank you to our PD manager, Nikita, from our @nzrugbyplayersassoc for helping us be better people not just better rugby players. Shout out to @bcito for being so patient and flexible with our schedules too🙌🏽 . . So if anyone needs a house built.. hit up @porshwoodman 😂🤙🏽 . . #GratefulForGrowth #NewChallenges #SomethingDifferent #TheBuildingJargonThough😳 #BuildMeUpButtercup #MachineStressGrade #WheresTheNailGun #JustCallMeBob #NahJokesPleaseDontAskMeAboutMoistureContentMeasurements #15-20% #LessGroww #ThankfulForMyMate #AnyTipsPleaseDMMeLool #Hammered #Humbled #HavingFun
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"I think one of the biggest points when this injury came around was 'wow, that's how fast your career can end if something does happen, what have I got?'. I've been pretty lucky the last seven or eight years that I've just had rugby. I'm getting a little bit older now so you have to have something and this is a start."
Woodman was confident the Black Ferns Sevens squad had the depth to cover for the absence of her and Blyde. With the 2020 Olympics on the horizon, she said this was not the worst time to get injured.
"They had a really big, awesome year last year. They probably didn't finish the way they wanted to but they've started the season off and everyone's looking really good, strong and they all know their roles.
"If you could pick a time, this is probably the best time. I'm grateful because the Achilles injury has definitely taught me a lot about patience, understanding who I am as an athlete and what I bring to the environment and the team - who I am outside of rugby as well."
The Black Ferns Sevens squad for the Dubai and Cape Town legs of the HSBC World Sevens Series will be named on Monday.
2019/2020 Black Ferns schedule
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series - Glendale
Oceania Sevens - Fiji
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series - Dubai
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series - Cape Town
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series - Hamilton
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series - Sydney
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series - Hong Kong
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series - Langford
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series - Paris
July 30-August 1:
2020 Tokyo Olympics