Aussie selection in reach
SHAAN Waru dreamed of playing for the All Blacks as a child, but says representing her adopted home of Australia would mean just as much.
Waru is on the cusp of Australian selection after receiving an invitation to train with the national women's sevens team in Sydney this weekend.
The 23-year-old only returned to sevens rugby in January, after a seven-year hiatus, following pleas from Sunshine Coast Stingrays coach Tim Murray.
"She is the most naturally gifted footballer I have ever seen," Murray said.
Waru represented the Sunshine Coast at the state championships in February and was one of the best players of the tournament resulting in her selection in the Queensland side.
She travelled to Canberra for the national championships earlier this month where she once again shone among the best players in the country. Waru's sterling performance at the nationals prompted Australian selectors to fly her to Sydney this Saturday for a two-day stint training with the national side.
The hooker is one of only a handful of players from across the country to be invited to this weekend's training camp.
Waru grew up in Hawke's Bay on New Zealand's North Island and started playing rugby with the boys when she was six.
"I loved it and could play with the boys, so until I was 14 I had it in my head that I was going to play for the All Blacks," she said.
"Then they got big and I realised that was never going to happen."
Waru followed her family to the Coast in 2009 before stints playing semi-professional rugby (15-a-side) in Spain and England in 2012 and 2013.
With Australian selection a strong possibility, Waru said donning the green and gold would be as much of an honour as representing New Zealand.