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Journey of discovery for Leiataua

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Sportal.co.nz     11 Jul 2013     Getty Images

Boasting a proud Samoan heritage, the year 13 student at Papatoetoe High School was drafted into the Black Ferns squad for the first time to prepare for the three Test series with England and, alongside good friend and fellow Auckland midfielder Mele Hufaga (18), is the youngest in the squad.

She is the oldest of five siblings to mother Tala and father Nigel, who was born in Samoa.

While only 17, Leiataua has already made waves for her blockbusting bursts in the No.12 jersey. She was the starting second five-eighths for the Marist Tamaki team that won the 2012 Coleman Shield against Ponsonby and also scored in the 38-12 win over Canterbury in the 2012 Women's ITM Cup final.

In November 2012 her stellar year was capped after winning the women's rugby category of the College Sport Young Sportsperson of the Year in Auckland.

This year alone Leiataua has been in scintillating form for her high school in the girls 10-a-side competition, scoring no less than 18 tries and 10 conversions in eight games as Papatoetoe High School claimed a 6-2 record with four games to play.

"I like the contact and the physicality of it," Leiataua said in a dangerously gentle manner. "I like crash balls and hitting it up."

Despite playing the 15-woman code, it is the sport of rugby league that has a proud heritage in her family. Her uncle is Ali Lauitiiti, a former back-rower for New Zealand and the Warriors who went on to win the NRL's second-rower of the year award in 2002.

The time difference makes it difficult for Leiataua, but she would contact Lauitiiti, who lives in the English city of Wakefield, via social media and learn a number of lessons from the former New Zealand and Leeds Rhinos star.

Leiataua admitted she had nerves when she first entered the Black Ferns set up, but said the camp was a great opportunity to develop after just three-and-a-half years playing the game.

"I guess it's like coming into camp and being able to have that opportunity to represent your country and learn from the best from within your country."

Leiataua, who is also her school's girls sports captain, admitted to difficulties juggling schoolwork and training, but spoke of an ambition to pursue chemistry or medicine in 2014.

"In year 10 my science teacher just made it fun for me. She just taught it in a way that made it easier for me to understand. I like it because if you become a doctor or nurse then you're helping people."

Should she have the chance to make her Black Ferns debut over the next three Tests, she'll be looking for chemistry of a different kind.

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Black Ferns v England
First Test
Saturday 13 July
Eden Park, Auckland
Kick off 5:05pm (NZT)

Curtain raiser to Blues v Chiefs Investec Super Rugby match
Adults: $20
Children: $5
0800 111 999
www.ticketmaster.co.nz
BROADCASTING: LIVE Sky Sport One NZ and The Rugby Channel

Second Test
Tuesday 16 July
Waikato Stadium, Waikato
Kick off 7:00pm (NZT)

All entry: $5
AT THE GATE
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BROADCASTING: Highlights, further details to be advised

Third Test
Saturday 20 July
ECOLight Stadium, Pukekohe
Kick off 2:35pm (NZT)

Adults: $10
Students: $5
Children: FREE
Tickets available at CMRFU Gate
(CMRFU Season Membership includes this match)
www.steelers.co.nz
BROADCASTING: Highlights, further details to be advised