Two years ago Olympic gold medallist Gayle Broughton played an integral role in the Black Ferns Sevens standing on top of the world.
Having achieved basically everything in the sevens game, a career in rugby league was the missing chapter in her successful career and so she opted last year to make the switch, retiring from rugby to migrate to Australia with her family.
“I wanted a challenge, I felt like I had kind of created a good legacy with sevens,” Broughton said.
A year later after a successful switch at the Parramatta Eels, she’s back in Aotearoa donning another New Zealand jersey equally close to her heart; the Māori All Stars jumper.
“Growing up as a young Māori kid in Hāwera, rugby league was always the sport,” she said.
“From the age of seven to 12, because I wasn’t allowed to play anymore because the boys were getting a bit too rough so it was always a dream to play rugby league and there’s no better time than after the Olympics.”
Now she has a chance to wear the Māori green and white this weekend in Rotorua to fulfil those childhood dreams from her Hāwera Hawks days.
Both the Māori All Stars and Indigenous All Stars were welcomed to Rotorua today with a traditional pōwhiri although Broughton joked they dropped the ball in a crucial area.
“I think we need to touch up on our singing,” she said.
“I knew some of the boys a bit whakamā [shy] but far, you know, feel the ihi! [excitement]”
Corey Harawira-Naera said many of them were wrapped up in emotions though.
“Just being home - being in Aussie, you kind of get stuck in that land and get away from culture so it’s good to be home.”