Kiwi Ferns join Nines party
September 16, 2014
Kiwi Ferns join Nines party
When Kiwi Ferns star Sarina Fiso attended the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines this year, six-year-old son Luke scored a prized souvenir – the trademark headgear belonging to Penrith five-eighth Jamie Soward.
“We ordered gold tickets that got us seats by the players’ tunnel,” recalls Fiso. “It was a great experience and we were looking forward to going again next year.”
But the veteran international will have an added incentive to attend in January, now that the NZ national women’s team have been confirmed for a televised three-game nines series against their Australian rivals as part of the 2015 event.
The women’s game enjoyed centre-stage at the Auckland Nines draw in Sydney today, with Fiso (32) and Jillaroos counterpart Maddie Studdon assisting with the ceremony.
Health and fitness allowing, she is a fairly good bet to be out in the middle of the Eden Park, doing battle with the Aussies.
“I never dreamed we would get this kind of opportunity, especially as part of an NRL tournament, with so many of the game’s top players involved,” she says.
“It’s like a dream come true. When I heard, I was overcome with excitement at the thought of playing in that packed stadium.
“We don’t get too many chances to come together as a team for international fixtures, so the girls will be preparing hard to make sure we make the most of this one.”
Despite their relatively low profile on the sporting landscape, the Kiwi Ferns have put together a proud record, based largely on their own hard work and initiative. Moving forward, those efforts will be supported by the NZ Rugby League high performance programme.
The Ferns won three World Cups from 2000-08 and only lost their grip on that trophy when they fell to Australia in last year’s final at Leeds. Fiso has been a part of the last two campaigns, after debuting for the team in 2006.
Those two sides will meet again in 13-a-side action on November 9, when they play a curtain-raiser to the Australia v Toa Samoa Four nations clash in Wollongong, and inclusion in the Nines may be a catalyst to regular trans-Tasman competition.
“Opportunities like these will really help us grow the women’s game in New Zealand,” says Fiso. “Hopefully, we can inspire more girls to take up the game and continue the tradition we’ve begun.”
Today's draw placed the hometown Vodafone Warriors in a pool that also includes Wests Tigers, Canberra Raiders and Gold Coast Titans, none of whom made the NRL playoffs this season.
A feature of the draw is the renaming of pools after Auckland tourist landmarks - Rangitoto, Waiheke, Hunua & Piha.
The men's pools are:
Rangitoto - Parramatta Eels, Manly Sea Eagles, Newcastle Knights & St George Illawarra Dragons
Waiheke - Melbourne Storm, North Queensland Cowboys, Penrith Panthers & South Sydney Rabbitohs
Hunua - Wests Tigers, Vodafone Warriors, Canberra Raiders & Gold Coast Titans
Piha - Sydney Roosters, Brisbane Broncos, Canterbury Bulldogs & Cronulla Sharks