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.
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.