One of the best rugby players in the world was raffled off by a primary school in Levin this week.
Sarah Hirini MNZM was more than happy to give her time for a good cause, with all money raised going towards a Levin East School fund aimed at helping students gain experiences they might not otherwise have had.
One of the main prizes was a coaching session with Hirini, won by students Jazmin Galey and Ataahua Kimura-Davidson, and they got to bring some mates along with them.
Hirini took them through some fun drills for more than an hour and was in the thick of it when they played a game of touch football.
There was a close connection with the school for Hirini as her mother-in-law Veronica was a former teacher there, while current teacher Paula Hirini was part of her wider whānau.
Hirini, who grew up in a small town herself in Kimbolton, said in the early days she played a variety of sports but never imagined one day she would represent New Zealand in rugby.
"I know that in small towns you don't necessarily get the exposure to professional athletes so it's good to just be present," she said.
It was important to impress on youngsters how rewarding it is just to be active, whether it was playing rugby or even dancing, as dreams do come true.
"Just being active is the most important thing though. I just loved sport growing up and being involved in sport and being part of a team environment. It's so much fun," she said.
Hirini didn't have to travel too far to honour the raffle prize. She was just up the road in Palmerston North, as part of the Manawatū Cyclones squad fresh from an 88-0 win against Tasman in the Farah Palmer Cup competition, which kicked off earlier this month.
As a former Feilding High School and Massey University student, she said it was special to be able to play for the Cyclones, as Manawatū would always be her home province.
She was looking forward to the Farah Palmer Cup match against Wellington this afternoon after spending time on the sideline with a fractured eye socket.
It should be a great game of rugby. Wellington, semifinalists last season, would be formidable opponents, fresh from wins against Tasman (62-0) and Hawke's Bay (67-17).
Hirini was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to rugby in the 2019 Queen's Birthday honours list. She was part of the 2017 World Cup winning side and now plays for the NZ women's sevens team.
In that same season she was nominated - for the fourth time in six years - as the World Rugby Women's Sevens Player of the Year, and was also was the first woman to play 200 matches in the global circuit.