Portia Woodman may be on top of the women's rugby world but she always has a piece of Northland with her wherever she goes.

Woodman took out the Women's Player of the Year honour at the World Rugby awards, beating out fellow Black Fern Kelly Brazier.

The Kaikohe winger remains a humble Northlander, highlighted by the piece of her home she carries with her.

"When I made the sevens team my parents gave me a hangi rock, a rock we have in New Zealand, to either stick in my boot or just have with me so I have a little piece of New Zealand wherever I go in the world," she said.


Woodman was gracious in accepting the award, paying homage to her Black Ferns teammates who were named the team of the year over the All Blacks and England.

"Winning the team award shows how good we were and they made me look good. They did all the tough work and I was out on the sideline waiting for the ball," she said.

"I still consider myself such a rookie in the 15s game so it just shows how good our team is to make a player that's not that experienced look experienced."

Woodman made a successful transition from sevens to 15s and continues to be a force in both codes.

The winger played every minute of the World Cup where she scored 13 tries and was the focal point of a polished Black Ferns backline, finishing the tournament the top try and point scorer.

She said she was worried about people's expectations when she made the shift.

"I felt like people were expecting the Portia Woodman from sevens. With sevens I'm confident in what I'm doing and I know what I need to do," Woodman said.

"In 15s it's a bit different. It's a completely different game plan, different strategy and it's just a different game.


"The thing I was worried about was that people were expecting sevens Portia and I was quite timid and not quite sure where I was in the 15s game. The best thing I could do was go out there and run like heck."

The Black Ferns' successes have paralleled the increases in women's rugby players in New Zealand, hardly a coincidence.

Woodman said the future is bright for the women's game.

"We've worked really hard over the last 12 months from Ireland a year ago to the World Cup. We've had amazing support from coaches, players and management across the world so this is really the icing on the cake," she said.

"After Rio we saw a massive increase in women playing rugby and parents realising women can play rugby and it can be a pathway for them so I think now we've won this award, who knows where it will go?

"I think it's been said the women's game has taken over the men's in growth so it could go anywhere."

Woodman's and the Black Ferns' accolades added to a successful night at the World Rugby awards for New Zealand.

All Blacks No 10 Beauden Barrett has joined Richie McCaw as the only other player to win back-to-back player of the year gongs at the World Rugby awards in Monaco.

Barrett was named World Rugby's best male player, beating out teammate Rieko Ioane, Australia's Israel Folau, England and Lions first-five Owen Farrell and England and Lions lock Maro Itoje.

The 26-year-old scored 168 points in 13 tests this year including six tries and a record 45 conversions.

He joins McCaw and Dan Carter as the only players to win the top player award multiple times with his former teammates both winning the accolade three times.