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‘Can I try’: Injured Sarah Hirini refusing to give up on Paris Olympics dream

By Finn Morton
Gold medalist Sarah Hirini of Team New Zealand celebrates with her gold medal during the Women’s Rugby Sevens Medal Ceremony on day eight of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Stadium on July 31, 2021 in Chofu, Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Injured Black Ferns Sevens captain Sarah Hirini is down but not out. With the Paris Olympics just over five months away, Hirini is in a race against time to be fit and ready for the Games.

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Hirini, who was the flagbearer for New Zealand at the Tokyo Games three years ago, was helped from the field at the SVNS Dubai in December after suffering a serious knee injury.

The Olympic gold medallist was later ruled out of the next SVNS Series leg in Cape Town with an ACL injury – a tough blow that put the skipper in doubt for the rest of the season.

But after returning home to New Zealand and undergoing a successful ACL operation, Hirini embraced the challenge with a telling Instagram post in December.

“Ready for the tough road ahead,” Hirini wrote, with the caption accompanying a picture of the sevens star post-surgery.

But it still seemed like long odds that Hirini would even be a chance for the Games – but don’t tell her that. It won’t be easy, but Hirini is tackling the challenge head-on.

Hirini believes she can be on the plane with the New Zealand Olympic team to Paris, which the 31-year-old made clear in another social media post earlier this week.

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“I get that this is the normal timeframe but because there is an Olympic Games, can I try and make it back?” Hirini said in a video released on her Instagram.

“If they are going to tell me no, then I knew that that was a complete no.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Sarah Hirini (@sarah.hirini)

“They’ve said, ‘Yeah, there’s time. We’re pushing it but realistically there’s a time that you could try.’ And so I said, ‘Sweet, that’s all I need.'”

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In the absence of Hirini, the Black Ferns Sevens have struggled this season. After losing the final in Dubai, they were pipped by France in the Cape Town semi-finals a week later.

New Zealand appeared to be tracking well at the series’ most recent tournament in Perth, but a tough match-up against arch-rivals Australia in the quarters was always going to be tough.

It was a clash filled with thrilling tries and controversy, and in the end, hosts Australia emerged victorious at HBF Park.

“If anyone watched that game yesterday, it was worthy of a final,” New Zealand’s Tyla King told RugbyPass after New Zealand’s final match in Perth

“It was pretty ridiculous, I’m not gonna lie. Two red cards in the space of a few minutes of each other. It was just all over the show.

“Pretty entertaining for everyone out there watching but pretty gruelling out there for us. Not how we wanted to finish this tournament.”

Next up on the SVNS Series is an event in Vancouver from February 23 to 25. Those interested in watching some of the world’s best rugby while enjoying the best party in town can get tickets HERE.

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1 Comment
J
Jen 162 days ago

Such a great player. I hope she bounces back quickly.

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Jon 2 hours ago
Why Scott Robertson may need to ease big names aside for All Blacks' flexibility

> it was apparent Robertson was worried about his lack of experience at half-back, hence the decision to start veteran TJ Perenara and put Finlay Christie, the next most experienced number nine, on the bench. I don’t think it was this at all. It was a general scope he was putting over all the playerbase, he went with this cohesion factor in every position. > If the main priority is to build different tactical elements to the gameplan, then Ratima is the man in whom Robertson needs to trust and promote. This also I think is antagonist towards the reference game plans. The other plans do not need the speed of which Perenara (atleast) can’t provide, and I think personal is going to be the main point of difference between these games/opponents. That is the aspect of which I think most people will struggle to grasp, a horses for course selection policy over the typical ‘Top All Black 15’. That best 15 group of players is going to have to get broken down into categories. So it test one we saw Christie control the game to nullify the English threats out of existence and grind to a win. In test two we saw Ratima need to come on which dictated that this time they would run them off their feet with speed and the space did open up and the victory did come. Horses for courses. The same concepts are going to exist for every group, front row, lock and loose forward balance, midfield, and outside backs all can have positional changes that the players may be asked to accentualize on and develop. There might be some that _it_ will not ever click for, but they’ll hopefully still be getting to enjoy unbelievable comeback victories and late game shutouts to close it down. Knowing does not mean not enjoying.

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