From the time Forne Burkin first played rugby for Waipawa United as a 12-year-old she always had making the Black Ferns in the back of her mind.
Yesterday the former Hawke's Bay Tui hooker was one of 10 uncapped players named in a Black Ferns squad of 35 to prepare for the June-July Super Series in San Diego and two tests against Australia.
"While it's always been in the back of my mind I've become more and more driven during the last couple of years," 20-year-old Burkin said.
The 2011 Central Ross Shield rep is one of four hookers in the Black Ferns squad.
"There's obviously good competition there and it's good learning off the more experienced players," Burkin said.
The former Napier Girls' High School player is in her second year as a Bachelor of Agriculture and Commerce student at Lincoln University. She started in all eight matches last year for the Canterbury team which thrashed Counties-Manukau 52-29 in last year's Farah Palmer Cup Premiership final.
In 2017 Burkin started in all six first class games for the Hawke's Tui to repeat what she did for the Tui in 2015 while still a student at NGHS.
Hawke's Bay Tui first five-eighth Krysten Cottrell, who played five games for the Black Ferns last year, predictably retained her berth in the squad. With Bay of Plenty's Kelly Brazier, who can play 10 or 12, one of three Black Ferns Sevens players released to the squad Taradale's Cottrell, 27, expects plenty of competition for the 10 jersey this year.
Cottrell said Brazier and fellow sevens players, Aucklander Theresa Fitzpatrick and Southland's Alena Saili bring more international experience to the squad.
"We had a camp at the weekend and it was good to get a bit of clarity with the new-look squad," Cottrell said.
"Being loud and direct and using my boot are my biggest work-ons," added the Hawke's Bay Rugby Union women's development officer who will again be available for the Bay's Farah Palmer Cup campaign this season.
Bay of Plenty openside flanker Les Elder has been named captain of the Black Ferns.
Head coach Glenn Moore said preparation for the Women's Rugby Super Series 2019 in San Diego was well under way and it was a chance for the new players in particular to impress at international level.
"Everyone has a desire to be selected for the 2021 World Cup but we have a job to do first in the US, and it's an opportunity for these players to show what they are capable of."
Black Ferns squad:
Forwards: Eloise Blackwell (Akl), Forne Burkin (Canty), Luka Connor (BoP), Les Elder (BoP, capt), Karli Faneva (BoP), Aldora Itunu (Akl), Phillipa Love (Canty), Charmaine McMenamin (Akl), Toka Natua (Waikato), Aleisha-Pearl Nelson (Akl), Joanah Ngan-Woo (Wgtn), Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate (Counties-Manukau), Marcelle Parkes (Wgtn), Leilani Perese (C-M), Kennedy Simon (Wkto), Charmaine Smith (Akl), Pia Tapsell (N Harbour), Harono Te Iringa (C-M), Cristo Tofa (Akl).
Backs: Chelsea Alley (Wkto), Kelly Brazier (BoP), Grace Brooker (Canty), Kendra Cocksedge (Canty, v-capt), Krysten Cottrell (Hawke's Bay), Kiritapu Demant (BoP), Ruahei Demant (Akl), Theresa Fitzpatrick (Akl), Carla Hohepa (Wkto), Ayesha Leti-liga (Wgtn), Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu (C-M), Kilisitina Moata'ane (Otago), Natahlia Moors (Akl), Alena Saili (Southland), Renee Wickliffe (BoP), Selica Winiata (Manawatu, v-capt).
Schedule: Super Series in San Diego: June 29, v Canada; July 3, v USA; July 7, v France, July 15, v England. Laurie O'Reilly Memorial Trophy, v Australia: Aug 10 in Perth; Aug 17 in Auckland.