Lock takes her place on the Puk­erau pitch

Newslink - - NEWS - By RACHAEL KELLY

April Miller played her first game of men’s club rugby this sea­son with a frac­tured col­lar­bone.

The only woman play­ing club rugby in South­land, she said she was too keen to get on the field to let an in­jury stop her.

Miller is foot­ing it with the big boys, play­ing for the Puk­erau Rugby Club’s se­nior men’s team in the South­land-wide Pres­i­dent’s Grade com­pe­ti­tion.

‘‘At first I was kinda scared but they treat me the same – I just played it like it was a nor­mal game,’’ Miller said.

‘‘I don’t think about Puk­erau look af­ter me.’’

The hard-as-nails 18-year-old played rugby for Gore High School and the South­land Un­der-18 girls be­fore think­ing she would have to give the game away be­cause there was no se­nior woman’s rugby in Gore.

All that changed when she went to watch Puk­erau play one af­ter­noon.

‘‘I thought I feel like play­ing rugby again so I asked if I could play and they said yes.

‘‘I thought they were only jok­ing but they weren’t.

‘‘They found me a jersey so we went from there.’’

Miller has played four of five games for the team at lock or num­ber 8.

‘‘There’s no push­ing scrums, that’s one thing wor­ried about.’’

While she hasn’t scored a try this sea­son, she says she has ‘‘stopped a few – that’s my fame’’.

‘‘It’s good to be play­ing with people who know how to play.’’

The club has asked op­po­si­tion

it re­ally. in the

I was teams if they wanted to play her and all have been happy to.

‘‘They don’t treat me any dif­fer­ently re­ally – they don’t go soft on me but they’re not too hard on me ei­ther.’’

April comes from a tough rugby fam­ily. Her gran­dad Harold and dad Wayne both played for South­land and un­cle Paul Miller was an All Black.

‘‘People ask me why I’m not play­ing net­ball, but it’s not my thing. I like the sport and be­ing brought up around it – I just wanted to play.’’

Puk­erau Rugby Club pres­i­dent Jack McIntosh said April was a ‘‘good player’’.

‘‘She’s an ag­gres­sive tack­ler, a good ball car­rier – she doesn’t hang off,’’ McIntosh said.

‘‘It’s only Pres­i­dent’s grade rugby so no-one is out there to break records but it’s all been good.’’

PHOTO: RACHAEL KELLY/FAIR­FAX NZ 629687143

Tough chick: April Miller, 18, has been play­ing rugby for the Puk­erau men’s team this sea­son.

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