Family support and her Ngāpuhi links have as much meaning to Portia Woodman as a Commonwealth Games gold medal.

The Kaikohe flyer scored an important try in a strong performance during New Zealand's 17-12 extra time win over Australia in front of about 40 friends and family who had flown over the Tasman Sea to the Gold Coast.

Even illness couldn't stop the Woodman support crew being amongst the most vocal supporters at Robina Stadium.

"It was amazing. My dad [Kawhena] fell sick on the Saturday and ended up in hospital so he couldn't make it to my games that day," she said.


"He had a bit of a tangi, a bit of a cry, so that was a worry. Once I finished my games on that day I called and he said he was fine. It was just an infection in his neck.

"On the Sunday he managed to get out of hospital and come and see me play. Seeing him and also my Ngāpuhi family and friends was incredible. It's pretty indescribable.

"You don't always get to play in front of family and friends so to have so many come over - I think I had about 40 of them - and watch was incredible."

They were witness to an enthralling final which kept all viewers, whether at the ground or watching on TV, on the edge of their seats as New Zealand scraped home in the dying stages of the first extra-time period.

Portia Woodman splits the Australian defence on her way to a try in the gold medal match. Photo / Photosport
Portia Woodman splits the Australian defence on her way to a try in the gold medal match. Photo / Photosport

Woodman said while the side wasn't overly thrilled with the flow of the game on the final afternoon of the Games, winning the gold medal overshadowed that.

"Comparing it to other games during the tournament, it wasn't the perfect game in terms of skills," she said.

"The dropped balls and all the turnovers made it look really exciting but I think we expected more of ourselves. To have so many turnovers from both teams wasn't really the greatest.

"Still, to play nearly three seven-minute halves of sevens and to win with a run like that from Kelly Brazier was very special. I'm super proud of our girls to go that deep to get the win. It was really awesome."


Along with a sublime try, Woodman showcased her strength on defence and around the ruck to complete a standout all-round performance.

Memories of their Rio Olympics final loss to Australia where Woodman was yellow carded may have been in spectators' minds pre-game but they were well and truly dispelled after a courageous effort.

While Woodman got to celebrate with family and friends following her game, her trip back up north is on ice for the immediate future as she and the Black Ferns sevens side return to the HSBC Women's World Rugby Sevens Series.

She is looking forward to her homecoming when she gets the chance.

"The trip back up to Northland is going to have to wait a little while," she said.

"We've only got about seven days in between getting back from Japan and flying off to Canada again and it'll be the same right through until the end of July so that journey back will have to wait but I'm really keen to come back.

"Being from Kaikohe means a lot from. It's where I get my genes, my talent and my skillset from.

"Being able to go back to where it all started and to see my whanau and my friends will be an important part of celebrating our Commonwealth Games gold."

But for now, Woodman's focus lies with the next leg of the sevens series in Kitakyushu, Japan. That and trying to get through the screeds of congratulating messages from supporters.

"The messages are still coming in, I've only just got near the end of them," she said.

"The amount of messages on Instagram, Facebook, texts was insane. We just can't keep up with the amount coming through.

"Not just me but the whole team has been getting them. We're really thankful for all the support.

"Looking ahead from the Commonwealth Games, we are playing quite a few different teams. We haven't played USA and Japan so we have to figure out how to play them.

"But more importantly we have to just focus on us."