A Queen Margaret College pupil has dreams of wearing a black rugby jersey on an Olympic stage and last month moved one step closer.
Seventeen-year-old Hilla Fukofuka was named in the New Zealand women's sevens squad, a call- up she said was the best news ever.
A natural sportswoman, Fukofuka's first attempt at rugby was in January, when Black Fern Claire Rowat encouraged her to attend the sevens trial.
As one of the 28 chosen for the squad, she joined a training programme building up to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
After dabbling in netball and athletics, Hilla said her focus was now on rugby and her hopes were pinned on the 2016 games.
"I can remember watching the Olympics when I was little and just thinking to myself, 'One day I'll get there'.
"But now here's the opportunity and I don't want to look back and say that I didn't try."
This year, for the first time, Fukofuka played club rugby for the Old Boys University women's first XV side.
The centre said switching between sevens and 15-a-side had helped her develop a stronger understanding of both games.
Playing alongside older, more experienced players had involved a lot of learning, not because of their age but due to the nature of the grade, she said.
"The physicality of the game is daunting, because some of the girls are a lot bigger than me and I get smoked sometimes."
Club rugby team-mate Rowat said Fukofuka was a promising prospect for the international stage.
"Sevens is global and it is going to get massive for the women and Rio is definitely a reality for her," Rowat said.
"It's exciting because she's so young and she'll have many years there.
"I imagine she's going to travel the world with sevens. Going to Rio would be an amazing experience for her and I'm sure she'll make it."
Fukofuka has been at Queen Margaret for two years and is juggling more than just rugby balls.
She is finishing off her international baccalaureate diploma after moving from the French education system in New Caledonia. She also plays an active role at church, and she trains once, sometimes twice, every day.
Fukofuka is one of seven children and lives with her eldest sister, Jamie, 23, because her parents live in Vanuatu with her other siblings.
She said her family played a huge role in her success, in particular Jamie. "My sister is really supportive of me, I call her my rock, because if things get too hectic I can always just go to her and just talk."
website design by teapot media solutions