The playmaker made her New Zealand debut aged just 18

Hotshot: Black Ferns fly-half Patricia Maliepo

Date of birth 13 March 2003 Position Fly-half Club Auckland Country New Zealand

When did you first get involved in rugby? 

In 2012 at Marist Old Boys alongside my nephew and cousin. I was always that competitive team-mate, even though I was the only female. I got Player of the Year for my first year.

What do you most enjoy about rugby? 

Growing up, I enjoyed playing because you could go hard on the field. Leading into my college years it was more about my team-mates and the friendships I built, having the same goal in winning a match and working for each other so that all things on the field fall into place.

Your childhood heroes? 

My parents. Every day they ensured I had enough food, drove me to my trainings. They have been my number one supporters.

What are your strengths and work-ons? 

I’m a triple-threat player – strengths in kicking, passing and running. Work-ons would have to be my communication off the field as well as on the field.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career? 

So far it would have to be Linda Itunu. Because of who she is not just on the field but off it. I got to play with her before she retired and, man, what a player! She’s inspired me in so many ways that I want to do the same for my Pasifika family and females looking to take on rugby as a professional sport.

How does it feel to be part of the Black Ferns squad? 

A dream come true. It is surreal but being a Black Fern just makes you want to work and work and work.

What do you want to achieve in the next year? 

To work on building myself outside of rugby. Growing up, it was always rugby, rugby, rugby, but now I want to explore areas off the pitch and look into purchasing a house.

What do you do away from rugby? 

I finished college last year and decided to take a gap year, knowing it was World Cup year. From the postponement, I’ve worked as a freight sorter at Post Haste.

RW Verdict: She describes herself as a “female Beauden Barrett” and there are hopes she can enjoy similar success in the black jersey. She’s stood out at fly-half for Auckland and played in the Black Ferns’ Tests against England and France in autumn 2021.

This article originally appeared in Rugby World’s December 2021 edition.

Download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.

Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.