Kelsie Wills may be a Commonwealth Games beach volleyballer but it's rugby that will have her attention this year.

This is despite having never having played a game of rugby until four months ago.

Fast forward to today and she has played a few games of each of the sevens, 10s and 15s formats and will start her first season of club rugby playing for Mount Maunganui Sports in the Baywide Women's club rugby competition starting tomorrow.

Having come from a sport where a net separates the opposition, the contact involved in rugby was one of her biggest concerns. As a lock, she is expecting plenty of it.


"I guess the main thing that I was thinking about was the whole contact aspect you know. I guess I was a bit nervous about that at first. But once you get stuck in there, get hit a few times you're alright, and away you go," Wills says.

The Mount Maunganui-based athlete has spent her whole sporting career playing volleyball and beach volleyball.

She has completed an indoor volleyball scholarship in the US, played professionally in Paris and enjoyed international success in beach volleyball with her teammate Shaunna Polley, scoring bronze at the 2017 Ulsan 1 Star World Tour event in Korea and competing at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, where they finished fifth.

Kelsie Wills in action with her teammate Shaunna Polley at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast. Photo / Getty Images
Kelsie Wills in action with her teammate Shaunna Polley at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast. Photo / Getty Images

"[Commonwealth Games] was an awesome experience and I loved it ... pretty gutted with our result in the end but the whole build up and the actual event were just awesome. I was pretty stoked to be able to experience all that," she says.

"It was really cool the whole being part of the New Zealand team, going to the opening ceremony and closing ceremony - it was just a really awesome experience."

Rugby wasn't a sport she had previously considered. In fact it was something she sort of fell into after her cousin told her the Marlins were looking to field a team in this year's women's competition and suggested she head along to their muster in November.

"I finished Comm Games volleyball last year and decided I'd like to try something new, not getting any younger.

"I never really had like a point where I was like yeah, I want to play something else. I kind of just fell into it a bit.


"I jumped in, gave it a go and kind of kept going, and it kind of escalated a bit," she says.

Wills is looking forward to her first season with her team - another aspect of the sport she has had to get used to having played in a pair in recent years - saying there is a good mix of new and experienced players including newly contracted Blacks Fern Karli Faneva learning and supporting each other.

"This is the first women's team they've had in quite a few years.

"Its awesome, it's a really good bunch of girls. There's a few others that haven't played before so were all learning together.

"We're improving each time."

Since just before Christmas the team has entered local 7s and 10s competitions - Wills' first time playing each of the formats. This year she got her first taste of 15s.

"I'm excited to give it a whirl.

While she says she'd love a win this season, they are focusing on "getting our feet this year and putting up some good competition".

"You aim to get the win, no other really reason you'd go in the competition but we're really wanting to build as a team in general."

And while Wills has committed 2019 to rugby, she isn't ruling out a return to either volleyball court.

"At the moment I'm pretty fully booked with this rugby thing so I haven't really had time to play beach. I haven't really decided i wont play beach anymore, or volleyball in general, but I guess for this year at least I'm kind of focusing on rugby."