Rotorua's only all-girl junior tackle rugby team has received amazing messages of support from the best in the business ahead of their grand final match this weekend.
The Central Bay junior rugby finals are in Rotorua on Saturday with Waikite Kowhai, an all-girl team, playing Whakarewarewa Red for the under-8s title, creating junior rugby history.
It will be the first time an all-girls junior tackle team will play in a final in Rotorua.
The girls received an inspirational boost this week with members of the Black Ferns and world champion New Zealand Women's Sevens team sending separate videos wishing them good luck for their big match.
"Go hard this weekend in your final, have lots of fun, have your mates' backs and make sure you listen to your coach," Black Ferns sevens players said.
Meanwhile, the Black Ferns fifteens side are preparing to play the Wallaroos at Eden Park this weekend but still managed to send a video to the Waikite girls.
Led by former Waikite player Luka Connor, the players told the up and coming stars to "go out there and rep women's rugby," this weekend.
Waikite Kowhai coach Pete Makiha said the girls were buzzing.
"Hopefully it will give them a push. It's great to think that one day some of these girls may represent New Zealand too.
"The talent is already there."
Makiha said this would be a fitting finish to a journey which began in 2016 when he first formed under-6 Waikite Kowhai, which was the only all-girl rippa team in the Bay of Plenty at the time.
"That season really opened my eyes that girls could be competitive on the rugby field. Physically they were capable, it was just the skills, attitude and confidence that were lacking.
"The great thing with girls is they are amazing learners and listeners at this age so each season following has seen more new skills added, attitudes adjusted and fitness levels rising. Right now we are in a good space team-wise and really looking forward to the big challenge ahead."
Makiha said this season had been about knowing what their strengths and weaknesses were and how they could use them to their advantage.
"Regardless of what happens on Saturday, I am super proud of our girls for getting this far. I know the girls are excited for the finals and it's amazing how their confidence has grown over the years.
"They have become strong fierce girls," he said.
Central Bay of Plenty junior rugby officer Polly Playle said it was amazing that Rotorua's first and only all-girls tackle team had made the finals.
While Te Puke also has an all girl team in the Tauranga JAB under-9 competition, she said Waikite Kowhai was the first in the Bay to make a final.
"Even though they face off against my home club Whakarewarewa U8, I have a special place in my heart for this team and their whānau as I'm a hearty girls rugby fan and player myself.
"I have watched Waikite Kowhai grow and they have been among the hustle and bustle of the JAB competition here in Rotorua for a few years now, and I am so proud of them and how far they have come," she said.
"Their big sisters from the New Zealand Sevens team have made a shoutout to them which is undeniably a buzz for the U8 Waikite Kowhai as many of these young ladies aspire to these New Zealand players. All the best for your finals this weekend girls.
"You've got all the goods and I'll be cheering you all on. Girl Power!"
Central BOP junior rugby finals draw at Westbrook rugby fields:
Under-8 final - Waikite Kowhai v Whakarewarewa Red - Westbrook field 2 at 9am
Under-9 final - Marist St Michaels v Rotoiti - Westbrook field 2 at 9.55am
Under-10 final - Whakarewarewa Chiefs v Marist St Michaels - Westbrook field 2 at 10.50am
Under-11 final - Whakarewarewa v Waikite - Westbrook field 1 at 9am
Under-12 final - Ngongotahā v Waikite - Westbrook field 1 at 10.15am
Under-13 final - Ngongotahā v Waikite - Westbrook field 1 at 11.30am