Sefo reaches the top in record time

She played rugby for the first time four years ago, now Kirby Sefo is sport­ing a na­tional strip. Pet­rice Tar­rant re­ports.

South Waikato News - - NEWS/OPINION -

Trans­form­ing into an in­ter­na­tional rugby sev­ens fig­ure nor­mally takes time, per­se­ver­ance and a child­hood full of wish­ful think­ing.

But Kirby Sefo’s trip to the top was slightly less con­ven­tional.

The 27-year-old is in line for an IRB World Se­ries de­but af­ter be­ing named in the 12-woman Aus­tralian side play­ing in China this weekend.

The se­lec­tion is no mean feat for Sefo, who se­ri­ously han­dled a rugby ball for the first time four years ago.

She said the past 12 months have been ‘‘un­real’’.

‘‘I never though I’d end up play­ing rugby to start with let alone end­ing up be­ing a con­tracted player for Aus­tralia.’’

Grow­ing up in Toko­roa, she was more into her in­di­vid­ual sports.

‘‘I al­ways loved the Chiefs but I never re­ally knew what they were do­ing . . . I was a swim­mer for a lot of my time grow­ing up and did ath­let­ics and triathlons but noth­ing that in­volved hand­eye co-or­di­na­tion.’’

The Syd­ney- based for­ward crossed the ditch in 2010 and said she took up the game to make friends. One thing led to an­other. ‘‘It was the end of 2012, that’s when the first lot of women’s sev­ens com­pe­ti­tions came out.’’

The fast-paced na­ture of the 14-minute game was ap­peal­ing for the fit prop.

Sefo said she made the Queens­land state side but could not af­ford to travel to na­tion­als.

But Aus­tralian women’s sev­ens se­lec­tors could not ig­nore her raw talent when she fronted the fol­low­ing year.

‘‘That’s where I got picked up from first, they said ‘come down to camp and see how it goes’.’’

Stand­ing at a dom­i­neer­ing 178cm, she said her body re­sponds well to the phys­i­cal side of the game.

‘‘At the start I re­ally had no idea what I was do­ing. I have no idea where I learnt how to tackle that just came quite nat­u­rally which is quite odd.’’

It took a while to learn the ‘‘ins and outs’’ of the game, Sefo said, but with first class train­ing her skills im­proved ev­ery day.

‘‘Now that we’re cen­tralised we train full time and that’s a mix­ture of field ses­sions and gym ses­sions. We’re pretty closely mon­i­tored on what our strengths and weak­nesses are and learn­ing how to build on what you need to.’’

This is not the first time the free-lance graphic de­signer has stum­bled into in­ter­na­tional sport­ing sta­tus.

The year she turned down play­ing sev­ens na­tion­als was the same year she ended up pad­dling for the Aus­tralian Dragon Boat rac­ing team at the World Cham­pi­onships in Florida.

‘‘That was a bit of a sim­i­lar story – I didn’t re­ally know any­one so I went down to the club to meet people – it was the same thing [ as sev­ens] but it hap­pened a lot quicker.’’

Fol­low­ing a st­ing of in­juries, the tal­ented sportswoman said it is an hon­our to be putting on her size 11 boots in China this weekend.

‘‘I feel re­ally lucky that I’ve fi­nally got through my re­hab and it’s paid off – it’s look­ing up from here.’’

Sefo will feel right at home play­ing along­side Toko­roa’s Amy Turner for Aus­tralia while Pu­taruru’s Honey Hireme will, at some point, be on the op­pos­ing side.

Hireme is back in the New Zealand women’s rugby sev­ens team named by coach Sean Ho­ran to con­test the China leg of the IRB world se­ries.

Hireme, 32, was a key mem­ber of the world cham­pi­onship- win­ning New Zealand team but has been out re­cently with a vi­ral ill­ness.

The nat­u­rally tal­ented Kirby Sefo’s trip to the top was an un­ex­pected one.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.