June 08, 2022
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Brazier is my guardian angel: Kalounivale

Fiji-born forward Tanya Kalounivale relished her first international cap with the Black Ferns in their 23-10 test win against Australia in Tauranga on Sunday.

Speaking to allblacks.com. the former Suva Grammar School student said New Zealand's most accomplished 7s and 15s player Kelly Brazier took her under her wing and became her rugby guardian angel.

"She calls me Boss, and I call her Big Boss," Kalounivale said.

"She's the one who helped me get back into shape. She’s always on to me, asking me 'What's your weight? Have you done your running?'. And I'm like 'Yes, Big Boss, I'm going to do my third session now'. There's no escaping her.

"She's an awesome individual; so caring. She really inspires me to be at my best."

The pair reunited in March, playing together in the Chiefs side who won the inaugural Super Rugby Aupiki championship and Brazier "so proud" of Kalounivale of what she'd achieved to get this far.

The 23-year-old dyed her hair pink before the Pacific Four Series to express herself and said Brazier frequently checked her up while in camp.

"I was in a space where I wanted to be different. And pink represents kindness – I wanted to be kind to myself."

"I'm so honoured to be able to represent a country that has given me and my family a second chance."

"I wrote back 'Oh Big Boss, I just got named to be on the bench for the first test. I haven’t weighed in yet, but my weight last week was 128kg'."

"And she's like' Okay that's good Boss, but you've got some more work to do'.

"It's important to have people who want you to succeed. You don't want to give up, because they are always at your side."

"Even when she's not there, I know Big Boss will always be watching me. So I try to eat properly and look after my body right, so I can give much more than before. I’ve got to do it for me, and I know she'll be proud."

Kalounivale also revealed that she isn't tempting fate by imagining herself playing at the Women’s Rugby World Cup.

"I do want to make the World Cup squad but I haven't looked quite that far yet."

"At this time of my life, I'm just focused on today. What can I do today to influence tomorrow? That’s the key."

"I trust in my abilities to get me there, and I trust in my faith. It would be cool - but right now I’m just focused on today."

Meanwhile Brazier also bragged about Kalounivale on her performance after the test match on Sunday.

"The way she's worked since the end-of-year tour has been inspiring and I can't wait for her future in the jersey."

"Tanya's an awesome player and an even better person."

"I hope I can take the field with her in the black jersey someday," she said.

The Black Ferns will play Canada at Waitakere on Sunday.

By Romeka Romena  

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