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Niall Guthrie opens up on ‘bittersweet emotions’ at last sevens event

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Christopher Pike/Getty Images)

For Black Ferns Sevens veteran Niall Guthrie, this is it. Guthrie will play her final match on the World Series in Toulouse this weekend after signing a deal with an Australian rugby league club.

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As the adage goes, all good things much come to an end.

Guthrie has been a mainstay of the champion Black Ferns on the sevens circuit for a number of years, but the 35-year-old is set to take on a new challenge after signing with the Gold Coast Titians.

Just like her brother, legendary All Black Sonny Bill Williams, Guthrie will officially become a dual-code athlete at the end of this year’s World Series campaign.

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After switching from touch football to sevens, Guthrie made her debut for the Black Ferns Sevens in 2015 – and has contributed to some legendary wins and achievements in the eight years since.

Guthrie is a Commonwealth Games, World Series and Rugby World Cup Sevens champion – and an Olympic medallist, as well.

But again, all good things must come to an end – after an illustrious career in black, which includes more than 160 matches on the World Series, Guthrie is moving on.

Speaking with RugbyPass’ Lucy Lomax on day one of the Toulouse Sevens, Guthrie described the event as a “bittersweet” occasion.

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“It’s a little bit surreal,” Williams told RugbyPass. “Probably the last six months since the World Series started I was kind of like, ‘Oh that’s ages away.’

“But to finally be here, it’s probably a bit of bittersweet emotions because I’m leaving but sweet because I was lucky enough to be part of this journey.

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“I grew up around league, my whole family’s like really hearty league fans. I just thought, ‘Why not?’ You only get to play for so long in your life and you’re long time retired.

“I thought while I’ve still got a little bit of running these legs, why not go get in an uncomfortable environment and give it a go.

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“I go to Australia a lot because half my family live in Sydney so it won’t be too much of a difference. I guess I’m lucky that I’m going to the Gold Coast, so a lot of sunshine and beaches.

“The best part about it is that I’m only a three hour plane ride from home.”

New Zealand were beaten by rivals Australia in the Dubai Sevens in December, but the Black Ferns have proven unbeatable since.

After winning the Cape Town leg a week later, New Zealand won another four tournaments this season – and they could potentially make it six from seven in Toulouse.

But win or lose in La Ville Rose, the Black Ferns Sevens have etched their names into history.

They’re World Series champions once again.

Having beaten Poland and the United States on day one, New Zealand clinched their first World Series crown since the 2019/20 season.

Guthrie will go out a world champion.

“Being able to have a squad of 21, 22 who can step in at any time when we have injuries or we need other girls to have gametime and they step up,” she added.

“I think a lot of people are like, ‘Where are you getting all these girls from?’ It’s a credit to the team, the full squad, even the girls back home.

“Our competition back home inhouse is really strong.”

The Black Ferns Sevens will look to make it three wins from as many starts when they take on Canada in their final match of pool play in Toulouse on Saturday.

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