Training camp offers way back in

St Kevin's College's Georgia Oakes (18) is preparing to return to the rugby field at the Ignite7...
St Kevin's College's Georgia Oakes (18) is preparing to return to the rugby field at the Ignite7 camp. Photo: Tyson Young
It has been four years since Georgia Oakes was on the rugby field, but she cannot wait to be back.

The 18-year-old was something of a left-field selection for the Ignite7 camp in Auckland next month.

More than 500 aspiring under-20 sevens players from around the country applied to attend the camp, which is seeking the next generation of talent.

Just 48 boys and 48 girls were successful, Oakes getting one of eight non-rugby player spots.

Had things worked out differently, she would not have stopped her involvement in rugby.

Concussion issues led doctors to recommend she give it up.

However, playing sevens had always been a dream and when this opportunity arose it was too good to turn down.

"I never wanted to stop playing rugby," the year 13 St Kevin's College pupil said.

"I got forced to by the doctors, but I always thought sevens seemed like less contact and stuff.

"It's just always appealed to me and this came up and I thought I might as well give it a shot.

"The whole sport is just my kind of thing. It's such a good opportunity they've given to be able to step it up and make something of it."

Despite giving away rugby, Oakes has remained active.

She is a handy basketball player, representing South Canterbury, and has been to Australia with a New Zealand team.

In the summer she rows for St Kevin's and Oamaru Rowing Club, and she has competed for the Otago University club.

On top of that, she fits in netball and touch while also enjoying pig hunting.

That has given her a strong athletic base, which helped in the selection process for the camp.

After filling out an application form, she had a phone interview and was picked for a trial training camp.

From there she was selected for the national camp and has been working to help resharpen her skills.

"A lot of my friends from the First XV, they've been helping me out heaps. They've been taking me through some skills at night-time and stuff."

The camp consists of a lot of fitness testing and physical screening, which she was looking forward to.

It ends in a tournament in which the 48 players will be broken into four teams to play each other.

"One of the biggest things I would be looking forward to is to be working alongside and being coached by some of New Zealand's top athletes and professionals.

"I'm also looking forward to the tough competition from the fellow athletes."

She was unsure what position she would play, describing herself as "a bit of a mongrel" on the field.

The camp was a starting point and she would see how it went, although would love go as far as she could with it.

Over the next couple of years, though, that may not be in the South - Oakes hopes to study to become a fitness trainer through the army, through which she could be posted anywhere.

Other Otago players to have made the camp are Levi Emery, TJ Ane, Henry Bell, Michael Manson and Emma Hopcroft.


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