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New Zealand’s Shiray Kaka reveals price of ‘embarrassing’ TikTok fame

By Finn Morton
Black Ferns Sevens star Shiray Kaka.

With more than 100 thousand TikTok followers and 3.5 million likes to match, Black Ferns Sevens’ Shiray Kaka has emerged as one of New Zealand’s leading sports personalities.

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Kaka, who returned to the SVNS Series in Vancouver after missing out on the squad for last month’s event in Perth, is everywhere on the platform. But there’s a problem.

The New Zealander may be an Olympic gold medallist, who has also made the podium at the Rugby Sevens World Cup and Commonwealth Games, but people don’t know she plays on the SVNS Series.

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Instead, as Kaka reflected with a smile on her face, the Kiwi is known by many as “the girl off TikTok.” But Kaka, half-jokingly, looked ahead to changing that in the future.

“It’s actually a little bit embarrassing,” Kaka told RugbyPass. “People don’t even know I play rugby, they’re just like, ‘That’s the girl off TikTok.’ It’s so sad.

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“I would never, well I won’t say ever – I don’t like putting my own highlights and stuff on rugby and I feel like that’s the only way I’d get likes.

“Maybe you post it for me and then it won’t seem like it’s from me. But I’ve noticed that’s on record now. Okay, it’s out there. If anyone wants to make me a highlight reel please go for it.”

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Back in the mix with the Black Ferns Sevens at Vancouver’s BC Place Stadium, Kaka has taken the opportunity with both hands during New Zealand’s two big wins on Day One.

Kaka, 28, scored a first-half double during New Zealand’s dominant 40-7 win over Brazil in their opening match and backed that up with another try against South Africa.

With the women in black now two from two going into the second day, they won’t want to get ahead of themselves but there’s an elephant in the room.

Their season hasn’t gone to plan so far. With three tournaments and no Cup final triumphs, they’ll be eager to change that at the Canadian venue this weekend.

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“Not the greatest, you can say it, you can say it. We’ve lost every tournament. That’s what’s happened,” Kaka said.

“We just go back to playing rugby for fun and remembering your ‘why’ and all that kind of thing. Just coming together, recuperating and just remembering the pinnacle event is the Olympics.

“We keep grinding.”

The Black Ferns Sevens will look to make it three from three in pool play when they come up against the Ireland women’s side – who won the Cup final in Perth – on Saturday.

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Poorfour 11 hours ago
The AI advantage: How the next two Rugby World Cups will be won

AI models are really just larger and less transparent variants of the statistical models that have been in use since Moneyball was invented. And a big difference between the Icahn centre’s results and AI today is that ChatGPT-like Large Language Models can explain (to some degree) how they reached their conclusions. In terms of what impact they will have, I suspect it will have two primary impacts: 1) It will place a premium on coaching creativity 2) It will lead to more selections that baffle fans and pundits. Analysts will be able to run the models both ways: they will see their own team’s and players’ weaknesses and strengths as well as the opposition’s. So they will have a good idea at what the other team will be targeting and the decisive difference may well be which coaches are smart enough to think of a gameplan that the other side didn’t identify and prepare for. For players, it places a premium on three key things: 1) Having a relatively complete game with no major weaknesses (or the dedication to work on eliminating them) 2) Having the tactical flexibility to play a different game every week 3) Having a point of difference that is so compelling that there isn’t a defence for it. (3) is relatively rare even among pro players. There have been only a handful of players over the years where you knew what they were going to do and the problem was stopping it - Lomu would be the classic example. And even when someone does have that, it’s hard to sustain. Billy Vunipola in his prime was very hard to stop, but fell away quite badly when the toll on his body began to accumulate. So coaches will look for (1) - a lack of exploitable weaknesses - and (2) - the ability to exploit others’ weaknesses - ahead of hoping for (3), at least for the majority of the pack. Which is likely to mean that, as with the original Moneyball, competent, unshowy players who do the stuff that wins matches will win out over outrageous talents who can’t adapt to cover their own weaknesses. Which will leave a lot of people on the sidelines sputtering over the non-inclusion of players whose highlights reels are spectacular, but whose lowlight reels have been uncovered by AI… at least until the point where every fan has access to a sporting analysis AI.

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