Rugby: Brazier 'man of the team' in win

Kelly Brazier holds her sevens World Cup medal at her Dunedin home. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Kelly Brazier holds her sevens World Cup medal at her Dunedin home. Photo by Craig Baxter.
What a difference four years can make.

Kelly Brazier missed out on selection for the New Zealand sevens side in 2009. This week, she returned to Dunedin from Russia wearing a World Cup gold medal around her neck and feeling very much like a ''grownup''.

''It hasn't fully sunken in yet. I guess not many people can say they've won two World Cups.''

Brazier was part of the Black Ferns squad that won the Women's Rugby World Cup in 2010, and she made her sevens debut in January with a view to chasing a gold medal at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.

Brazier (23) said missing out on sevens squad selection was pretty hard to take at 19, but she had rebounded well.

''I've learned from it. I was obviously pretty gutted, but I have since done more to get where I am now and it definitely made it worthwhile.''

Brazier is a leader in the sevens squad. Team-mate Portia Woodman said Brazier ''was the man of the team'' after the side's 29-12 win over Canada in the final.

''Our coaches call me `Tama', after a boy. They say I play like a boy. It's kind of funny,'' Brazier said.

She was an influential figure in the final, utilising her deep kicking game after unexpected rain turned the field into a mudbath.

After experiencing 35degC heat all week, the storm came as a surprise. Brazier described the lightning strikes experienced before the men's final as ''gunshots''.

The delayed start to the women's final meant celebrations went well into the morning, and she was slowly recovering from jet lag after flying through Dubai, Sydney, Auckland and Christchurch to reach Dunedin.

''After being away, it's always good coming home. It will always be home and I will always come back.''

Brazier would have liked to have played more than just two games for her Alhambra-Union club this season, but has decided to spend a month in Canada to take a breather from rugby.

Before that trip, she will join the Black Ferns for a home three-test series against arch rival England.

The first test is at Eden Park on July 13 as a curtain-raiser to the Chiefs v Blues Super 15 game.

Brazier expects the English to come out fighting as the union had ''pumped money'' into women's rugby.

The New Zealand women are not nearly as well resourced, and Brazier said many of her team-mates had to walk away from jobs or take pay cuts just to play.

The Black Ferns' build-up for next year's World Cup may coincide with the Olympic Games sevens preparation. If Brazier has to pick one, it will be sevens.

''It is the best team environment and culture I've ever been in. It's kind of like a family - you get real close with everyone.

''It shows on the field. No-one is out there for themselves.''

Brazier is the only Otago player in the New Zealand sevens team, but she has been joined in the Black Ferns squad by provincial team-mate Kathleen Wilton.

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