'It's been a long time coming' - Black Sticks star Anita McLaren still buzzing over Comm Games gold, back to training for upcoming World Cup

Black Sticks women’s hockey star Anita McLaren touched down in Auckland on Monday night and admitted she has waited a long time to bring gold home.

McLaren, 30, told 1 NEWS that there was reason for her teary post-match interview after her side clinched gold and defeated Australia 4-1 on Saturday.

"Yeah I know I got a bit emotional it's been a long time coming I think," said McLaren.

"I've been there for a wee while and worked so hard and to finally be able to bring it home for New Zealand it was pretty special."

McLaren has been part of the Black Sticks team since 2009 and won silver at the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games and bronze at the 2014 Games in Glasgow.

New Zealand defeated Australia 4-1 to claim Commonwealth Games gold in the women’s hockey final. Source: TVNZ | Commonwealth Games

"It is still surreal to have a gold medal around my neck."

The Black Sticks women's team won't get much rest and recovery with the team returning to training next Monday to prepare for the Hockey World Cup in London in July.

"We're back to our centralised campaign, we've got a World Cup coming up later this year.

New Zealand beat Australia 4-1 in a toughly fought match on the Gold Coast. Source: TVNZ | Commonwealth Games

"That's our bench mark performance and we have got to now continue and keep building towards our World Cup campaign."

The Black Sticks veteran admitted that she was happy to get a win over trans-Tasman rivals Australia.

"It's always good to beat the Australians but you know they are pretty tough.

"What a better way to beat them at home (Australia) and bring home a gold medal."

The Black Sticks women defeated Australia 4-1 in the women’s hockey final. Source: 1 NEWS



'I was too short' - Warriors women star Louisa Gago’s journey from netball to league

Warriors lock Louisa Gago's decision to turn her back on netball in high school has proven to be the right call, finding her niche in the women’s NRL competition.

The 24-year-old had the dream of playing netball at higher levels in her teens, but admitted her stature proved to be a problem.

"I was playing netball in fifth form and sixth form, I was trying to make the A team," said Gago.

"But couldn't make it because I was too short, I got sick of playing in the B team and when I was 18 I thought I might as well try league."

Gago scored the what turned out to be the Warriors’ winning try in their first round 10-4 victory over the Sydney Roosters.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 08: Warriors players pose for a photo after victory during the round one of the women's NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the New Zealand Warriors at ANZ Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)
Warriors players pose for a photo after victory during the round one of the women's NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the New Zealand Warriors at ANZ Stadium. Source: Getty

She ran a perfect line off her skipper Laura Mariu to blitz through the Roosters’ defence and cross over the white line last Saturday at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.

Returning to the same venue to take on the St George Illawarra Dragons on Saturday, Gago said her side won’t be taking their opponents lightly.

Despite the Dragons 30-4 first-round thumping by the Brisbane Broncos.

"It will still be a tough game, those Aussie girls are pretty fit," she said.

Playing for the Manurewa Marlins at club level in Auckland, Gago revealed to 1 NEWS that stepping foot on the ANZ Stadium pitch was a huge moment.

"It was a dream to play at ANZ Stadium, I've grown up watching the big NRL teams and the finals played there," she said.

"I got pretty emotional when we had a little walk around the field before we played."

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 08: Alice Vailea of the Warriors celebrates victory during the round one of the women's NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the New Zealand Warriors at ANZ Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)
Alice Vailea of the Warriors celebrates victory during the round one of the women's NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the New Zealand Warriors at ANZ Stadium. Source: Getty

Warriors coach Luisa Avaiki says their opponents St George Illawarra will have a point to prove come Saturday.

"We're expecting that they will come out firing," said Avaiki.

"Every week is a grand final for us, so we have to go in with that attitude.

"Otherwise we can get caught sleeping if we don’t go in with that mindset."

The 24-year-old made the switch when she was high school and was a standout in the Warriors' 10-4 win over the Sydney Roosters. Source: 1 NEWS

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'You don't want to run their way': Warriors' Alice Vailea says big hitters ready to deliver more brutal defence on Dragons

The Warriors second rower said there are certain players the Dragons opposition should probably avoid on the pitch. Source: 1 NEWS

Warriors star Alice Vailea isn't getting ahead of herself, despite her side's shock round one win, with her Warriors teammates ready for a fired up Dragons outfit in the women's NRL this Saturday.

The 22-year-old second rower had a more than solid outing in the Warriors women's 10-4 Premiership win against the Sydney Roosters.

She made an impressive four tackle busts, carried the ball for 81 metres and delivered some at times brutal defensive hits, throughout the match.

But Vailea says her side have a new challenge in preparing for a St George Illawarra side still smarting from a 30-4 hammering from the Broncos in round one.

"I think for us we enjoyed the win and I know that's one game, just trying to stay focused week by week," said Vailea.

"It's good to get the win and start the competition like that, but we have a whole new challenge ahead of us."

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 08: Alice Vailea of the Warriors celebrates victory during the round one of the women's NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the New Zealand Warriors at ANZ Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)
Alice Vailea of the Warriors celebrates victory during the round one of the women's NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the New Zealand Warriors at ANZ Stadium. Source: Getty

Vailea's skipper Laura Mariu provided the game's biggest moment in delivering an absolutely bone-rattling tackle in the final minute of the match, to cause a turnover and cement the Warriors win.

"Those girls (Mariu and Nu'uausala) you just don't want to run their way, unlucky for those girls (Roosters) they kind of ran into the wrong person and defensively those girls are always going to be gunning for you," said Vailea.

She admitted she never really took rugby league seriously until realising she could play on the NRL stage.

"Never thought this would come so soon for me, I've always been one to just chill out and watch the girls do their thing.

"But this year I thought 'I wanna try and have a good go at this'.

"To be able to be amongst this team and be given the opportunity to play out there, I'm just grateful for the opportunity.

"And to be a part of it is just amazing."

Vailea said her family have been a great support throughout her rugby league career.

"Mum wanted to come over (Sydney) but couldn't come over, but to have the support of my family and know I'm making them proud makes me happy."

Warriors coach Luisa Avaiki said she was proud of her side's efforts last week, but hopes to see improvement in her club's attacking plays this weekend.

"Attacking wise we want to be able to put on more of our plays," said Avaiki.

"And move the ball around a bit more even in our forwards.

"We did do a lot of single one-ups and that but we want to be able to run up in numbers."

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'Mistakes are slowly starting to disappear' - Tasman confident ahead of Auckland NPC clash

Tasman Mako are quietly confident ahead of their premiership Mitre 10 Cup match against Auckland at Eden Park tonight.

Tasman have the edge over their rivals, having beaten Auckland twice in their last two meetings.

Mako coach Leon MacDonald is happy with his team's progress so far in the 2018 competition, but believes better performances are yet to come.

"We are always trying to get better in everything we do," said MacDonald.

"Our game I feel is getting better every week, just getting a bit more accurate and mistakes are slowly starting to disappear.

"If we can continue with that trend then we'll be happy."

Tasman and Auckland are both unbeaten in 2018, the winner of tonight's match will guarantee them the top spot on the NPC premiership ladder.

The All Blacks take on Argentina on Saturday night in Nelson and MacDonald says playing away from home is most likely a better scenario for his team.

"It would have been neat playing in front of a crowd in a kind of curtain raiser thing, but we are happy to get away.

"There is a big buzz down in Nelson at the moment, a lot of people flying into town.

"So it's quite nice to get away from all the distractions."

Mako skipper and fullback David Havili says his team is aware of the attacking flair of the Auckland's key players.

Havili has played three Tests for New Zealand and has won two Super Rugby titles with the Crusaders. Source: 1 NEWS

"There is a lot threats across the park, there's boys like Akira (Ioane), Melani (Nanai) out on the wings and that," said Havili.

"So it's going to be an interesting game but something that we are going to be up for."

Tasman beat Auckland 31-18 in Nelson last year and defeated Auckland 49-31 at Eden Park in 2016.

The Mako have been to three NPC premiership finals in the last four years and have lost twice to Canterbury in 2017 and 2016, and Taranaki in 2014.

Both teams are uneaten and face off tonight at Eden Park in Auckland. Source: 1 NEWS


'There is a lot talent in NZ rugby' - Tasman skipper David Havili on missing out on All Blacks squad

Mako skipper David Havili is one of many unlucky outside backs not to be in the All Blacks squad, but the fullback is focused on securing a first NPC premiership title for Tasman.

The 23-year-old back admits that there is long line of talented footballers in his position battling for a spot in Steve Hansen's team. 

"There is a lot of talent through New Zealand rugby," said Havili.

New Zealand's David Havili, left, is tackled by Australia's Tevita Kuridrani during the 3rd Bledisloe Cup rugby test match, Australia v All Blacks, Suncorp stadium, Brisbane, Australia, 21 October 2017. Copyright Image: Tertius Pickard/ www.photosport.nz
David Havili in action for the All Blacks in Bledisloe Cup Test against the Wallabies in Brisbane. Source: Photosport

"But it is good just to be back here at home, enjoying my rugby at the moment. So it's good to be with Tasman."

Havili has played three Tests for the All Blacks, making his debut against Argentina in October in Buenos Aires.

He isn't giving up on his dream to be back in the All Blacks frame, saying consistency is what he is aims for when with Mako at Mitre 10 Cup level.

"Keep playing consistent footy, keep putting a performance out there that I can be proud of," he said.

"It's been good to come back home and really getting on with the Tasman boys – it's been really good."

David Havili of the Crusaders. Source: Photosport

Havili has won back-to-back Super Rugby titles with the Crusaders, but is yet to win a NPC premiership title for Tasman.

Tasman are unbeaten in the NPC and take on unbeaten Auckland at Eden Park tomorrow night, in a top of the table premiership clash.

The Mako have been to three NPC premiership finals in the last four years and have lost twice to Canterbury in 2017 and 2016, and Taranaki in 2014. 

Havili has played three Tests for New Zealand and has won two Super Rugby titles with the Crusaders. Source: 1 NEWS