Crash a career bump overcome

UNSTOPPABLE: Stacey Waaka is part of World Rugby’s Try and Stop Us campaign, promoting women’s rugby. She is running a clinic at Barry Park on Saturday. Picture supplied

YOUNG Tairawhiti rugby talent will get tuition from a woman who has won two world cups.

Stacey Waaka, who was part of the Black Ferns side that won the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2017, is visiting schools in the region tomorrow and running a clinic in Gisborne on Saturday.

Waaka also plays sevens for New Zealand and was part of the women’s team who won a gold medal at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and then the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens title in San Francisco.

LRB Sports agent Luke Bradley said he was bringing the Hamiltonian to Gisborne because “she’s a pretty amazing player” and role model but also had “humble beginnings”.

Waaka, 23, was raised in Ruatoki, about 20 kilometres south of Whakatane.

Getting to sports training sessions was a challenge and her family were not flush with funds but provided necessary support.

She started playing rugby when she was 15 but a serious school bus crash in September 2011 put her sporting activities in jeopardy.

She compensates for shin nerve damage even now and the way she dealt with the crash is one reason she was named in World Rugby’s Unstoppables XV, part of the Try and Stop Us campaign promoting women’s rugby.

Elder brother and former Gisborne Boys’ High School student Beaudein Waaka has also played sevens for New Zealand.

Stacey Waaka will visit Manutuke School, Gisborne Intermediate and Tolaga Bay Area School.

Saturday’s clinic at Barry Park is for female rugby players but boys are also welcome in the non-contact Year 7 to 10 group.

Waaka said she liked to pass on to youngsters that anything was possible but people also had to work hard to pursue their dreams.

When a truck hit the back of her school bus in 2011 and she was propelled into the seat in front of her, she didn’t realise initially that she was hurt.

She tried to help everyone she could, including young relatives on the bus.

The crash put her out of action for a couple of months and perhaps reinforced her philosophy about being positive after encountering bumps in the road.

Waaka said meeting other members of the Unstoppables was amazing. Learning about their challenges put her own difficulties in perspective.

Waaka said she played sport for fun at school but realised during 2014, when she started a sport management degree at Waikato University, that she had a realistic chance of gaining national selection.

She made her debut for the Black Ferns a year later and was named Junior Maori Sportswoman of the Year.

She lined up at centre in the World Cup final against England, whom the Black Ferns defeated 41-32.

Waaka has had her share of injuries and is on the comeback trail after wrist surgery in April.

She has been taking advantage of her time out of the sport to plan her wedding to fiance Ricky Fluhler and catch up with family.

Her big dream now is to play sevens at the Olympics.

YOUNG Tairawhiti rugby talent will get tuition from a woman who has won two world cups.

Stacey Waaka, who was part of the Black Ferns side that won the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2017, is visiting schools in the region tomorrow and running a clinic in Gisborne on Saturday.

Waaka also plays sevens for New Zealand and was part of the women’s team who won a gold medal at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and then the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens title in San Francisco.

LRB Sports agent Luke Bradley said he was bringing the Hamiltonian to Gisborne because “she’s a pretty amazing player” and role model but also had “humble beginnings”.

Waaka, 23, was raised in Ruatoki, about 20 kilometres south of Whakatane.

Getting to sports training sessions was a challenge and her family were not flush with funds but provided necessary support.

She started playing rugby when she was 15 but a serious school bus crash in September 2011 put her sporting activities in jeopardy.

She compensates for shin nerve damage even now and the way she dealt with the crash is one reason she was named in World Rugby’s Unstoppables XV, part of the Try and Stop Us campaign promoting women’s rugby.

Elder brother and former Gisborne Boys’ High School student Beaudein Waaka has also played sevens for New Zealand.

Stacey Waaka will visit Manutuke School, Gisborne Intermediate and Tolaga Bay Area School.

Saturday’s clinic at Barry Park is for female rugby players but boys are also welcome in the non-contact Year 7 to 10 group.

Waaka said she liked to pass on to youngsters that anything was possible but people also had to work hard to pursue their dreams.

When a truck hit the back of her school bus in 2011 and she was propelled into the seat in front of her, she didn’t realise initially that she was hurt.

She tried to help everyone she could, including young relatives on the bus.

The crash put her out of action for a couple of months and perhaps reinforced her philosophy about being positive after encountering bumps in the road.

Waaka said meeting other members of the Unstoppables was amazing. Learning about their challenges put her own difficulties in perspective.

Waaka said she played sport for fun at school but realised during 2014, when she started a sport management degree at Waikato University, that she had a realistic chance of gaining national selection.

She made her debut for the Black Ferns a year later and was named Junior Maori Sportswoman of the Year.

She lined up at centre in the World Cup final against England, whom the Black Ferns defeated 41-32.

Waaka has had her share of injuries and is on the comeback trail after wrist surgery in April.

She has been taking advantage of her time out of the sport to plan her wedding to fiance Ricky Fluhler and catch up with family.

Her big dream now is to play sevens at the Olympics.

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