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Portia Woodman-Wickliffe: 'Paris Olympics will be my last time playing in the black jersey'

By AAP
Portia Woodman of the Black Ferns ready for action against the Wallaroos at Rugby World Cup 2021.Photo by Hannah Peters - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images

One of the most recognisable and decorated players in world rugby, New Zealand’s Portia Woodman-Wickliffe, has announced she will retire from international rugby after the Paris Olympics.

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A fan favourite, Woodman-Wickliffe has been a star of both the sevens and XVs game for more than a decade, having an impact on and off the field.

Starting as a professional netballer, Woodman-Wickliffe was introduced to rugby through the Go4Gold programme and was part of the first Black Ferns Sevens team to play on the World Series in 2012.

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A Rugby World Cup winner in 2017 and 2022, a Rugby World Cup Sevens winner in 2013 and 2018, Olympic gold and silver medallist and Commonwealth Games gold and bronze medallist are just a few of the on-field accolades she has to her name.

A record holder in both games, Woodman-Wickliffe has scored the most tries in Rugby World Cups, with 20, most tries in a Black Ferns Test, with eight, and most tries in Sevens Series history with 256.

She was recognised by World Rugby as Sevens Player of the Year in 2015, Women’s Player of the Year (XVs) in 2017 and in 2020 was named as the top women’s sevens player of the past decade.

In a social media post, Woodman-Wickliffe reflected on her time in the black jersey.  “After 12 incredible years representing New Zealand in sevens and 15s, the upcoming Paris Olympics will be my last time playing in the black jersey.

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“Rugby has provided me more than a career, it’s given me a second wh?nau in my sisters, opportunities to see the world and experience things I never would have otherwise.?One last dance with my sisters in Paris.”

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1 Comment
J
Jacinda 17 days ago

That’s a shame, so need her for World Cup coming up

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finn 5 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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