'Representing my country, my family, this is the reason why I play rugby' - Auckland teen rugby star on striving for success in the new professional era

From being the only girl to play rugby among the boys as a seven-year-old, Papatoetoe High School student Ricshay Lemanu is ambitious about giving rugby sevens a real go as a career choice.

Lemanu was named earlier in the week to represent New Zealand at the Youth Olympics in Argentina for the women's under 18 sevens side.

The 17-year-old plays wing for the Auckland Storm team but is a forward in sevens. The Papatoetoe senior student said she is proud to don on the black jersey again.

"Putting that black jersey on I feel so proud of how far I have come and all the help I have gotten," said Lemanu.

"All the opportunities I have been given, I have never taken any of them for granted."

Lemanu played for New Zealand in the Oceania tournament in Sydney in April where the team beat trans-Tasman rivals Australia 21-7 in the final.

"Representing my country, my family - this is the reason why I play rugby."

New Zealand Rugby last month announced its first contracted women players and Lemanu is no stranger playing alongside some of the Black Ferns stars in the Farah Palmer Cup.

New Zealand under-18 women sevens player Ricshay Lemanu.
New Zealand under-18 women sevens player Ricshay Lemanu.

Last year Lemanu debuted for the Auckland Storm on the wing, a side skippered by Black Ferns captain Fiao'o Fa'amausili.

"It felt good because I could learn from them. It was so unreal playing alongside some of them (Black Ferns)."

Ellen Teinakore found it hard to put into words her feelings about her daughter's fast progress through the sevens system.

"Her progress from seeing her being the only girl in the boys' team… it is just an unforgettable moment," said Teinakore.

Teinakore said her family were overwhelmed with tears of joy after hearing the news that Lemanu made the New Zealand under-18 women's squad.

"She came into the kitchen and was like 'mum I got in!' I screamed, I jumped around. Her dad and I jumped around.

"And then we cried, all three of us, it was a pretty awesome moment."

With the sport finally becoming professional for women in New Zealand, Lemanu's mother said she is glad to see her daughter get the opportunities she never had as a former player.

"I felt so proud to be a woman in New Zealand rugby and to be given an opportunity… hooray!

"I look back at it when I played rugby and it was never possible.

"To see it happen in her days I'm like 'yes!' Our world is moving in a good spot for girls in rugby."

Papatoetoe High School sports coordinator Carlin Crossan said Lemanu's selection in the New Zealand team is a massive plus for girls' rugby at the South Auckland school.

"Particularly for girls' rugby - having Ricshay is very handy with her natural talent and it has also helped the school girls' team be a lot more successful this year compared to previous years," said Crossan.

"It also means a lot of our younger girls now have something to aspire to as well.

"Hopefully a number of them can follow in Ricshay's path and they can make rep teams and make New Zealand teams in the future."

New Zealand under 18 women’s sevens squad to compete at October's Youth Olympics in Argentina:

Tiana Davison (Taranaki), Dhys Faleafaga (Wellington), Tynealle Fitzgerald (Bay of Plenty), Iritana Hohaia (Taranaki), Jazmin Hotham (Waikato), Riscshay Lemanu (Auckland), Azalleyah Maaka (Poverty Bay), Risaleaana Pouri-Lane (Tasman), Montessa Tairakena (Waikato), Kalyn Takitimu-Cook (Manawatu), Arorangi Tauranga (Waikato), Hinemoa Watene (Auckland).

Papatoetoe High School student Ricshay Lemanu debuted for the Auckland Storm in the Farah Palmer Cup last year as a year 12. Source: 1 NEWS



Granddaughter following in sporting footsteps of New Zealand's oldest living Olympian

Our oldest living Olympian is adding to her list of proud moments, with her granddaughter following in her sporting success.

Ngaire Galloway (nee Lane) is getting ready to watch 17-year-old Gina Galloway compete at next month's 2018 Summer Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires.

Described as a "a powerful and stylish swimmer", Galloway was New Zealand’s first female swimmer to hold concurrent junior, intermediate and senior national records.

She was also the only swimmer and female in the New Zealand team to compete at the 1948 London Games.

Seventy years on, granddaughter Gina is showing the same form. Last year she won a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Youth Games in The Bahamas.

Gina visited her Nana in Nelson today for a final "goodluck" before her next big event.

The pair not only share the swimming gene, they are both backstroke specialists too.

"From a young age, listening to all her stories, of her travels, the friends she's made and the experiences she's gained from swimming has been really really inspiring," Gina told 1 NEWS.

Both agree the technique has changed , but the goal - to be the fastest- remains the same.

"Three years ago I was still swimming 30 lengths, but I struck some back trouble," says Ngaire.

At 92, she’s enjoying being a spectator.

"She's able to livestream into the races I'm doing and Dad always sends her the links so she can watch. It's always cool knowing she's watching from Nelson," says Gina.

Now Ngaire hopes to catch Gina's medal moment in Argentina.

"I'd probably just about collapse with excitement."

"You better be careful," she tells her granddaughter.

Ngaire Lane, 92, is getting ready to watch her granddaughter compete at the Youth Olympics. Source: 1 NEWS

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'You tapped the glass window' - Conor McGregor mocks UFC champ Khabib Nurmagomedov about bus attack

Irish mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor has finally faced off with UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in New York, with neither fighter holding back in a war of words during a press conference in New York today.

Nurmagomedov criticised McGregor's ground game and fitness inside the octagon.

"I think I am going to make him tired," said Nurmagomedov.

"When he is tired he always gives up."

The two are set face off for the UFC lightweight title on October 7 in Las Vegas.

He also mocked McGregor's move to boxing where he lost by TKO against Floyd Mayweather Jr last year.

"When you move to box(ing) he tapped there. You tap like chicken."

The 30-year-old Irish star was quick to fire back, mocking Nurmagomedov for his reaction during his bus attack in April, where he threw a steel dolly at a bus full of UFC fighters in Brooklyn.

"You tapped the bus window," said McGregor.

The former lightweight and featherweight UFC champ agreed to a plea deal with the Brooklyn District Attorney's office in July, which allowed him to avoid a criminal record.

"I'll tap your head off the canvas."

McGregor has an MMA record of 21 wins and three losses, with Nurmagomedov unbeaten in 26 bouts.

The outspoken Irish fighter hasn't fought since November 2016, where he became the first double champion in the UFC after defeating Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight strap at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Khabib and other UFC stars were on a bus in Brooklyn in April when Conor threw a steel dolly at the window. Source: UFC


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Former UFC champion Jon Jones to return to the octagon after 15-month doping suspension

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones should be eligible to fight by late October after completing a 15-month suspension for a doping violation.

The US Anti-Doping Agency today announced the length of Jones' ban for his second violation of the UFC's anti-doping policy.

The decision means the 31-year-old Jones could even fight at UFC 230 in New York on November 3, if the UFC decides to book his comeback bout on that card.

Jones is widely considered the best pound-for-pound mixed martial artist in the world, but he has repeatedly sabotaged his own career.

He reclaimed the light heavyweight title from Daniel Cormier last year, but the victory was taken away when he tested positive for a steroid metabolite.

Jones also failed an out-of-competition test in 2016.

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 29:  (L-R) Jon Jones punches Daniel Cormier in their UFC light heavyweight championship bout during the UFC 214 event inside the Honda Center on July 29, 2017 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Jon Jones punches Daniel Cormier in their UFC light heavyweight championship bout during the UFC 214 event inside the Honda Centre in Anaheim, California. Source: Getty


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Watch: Sonny Bill joins daughters in comical Rocky Balboa inspired training video for upcoming bout

Sonny Bill Williams has called in the help of his daughters, Aisha and Imman, to promote his return to the boxing ring in December, with the star posting a hilarious Rocky Balboa inspired training video on social media today.

The cross-code star will fight Australian millionaire Stu Laundy on December 1, in a charity event to fundraise money for the homeless in New Zealand and Australia.

The 33-year-old All Black posted on his Instagram account today a video of him squatting with one daughter on his arm and another on his shoulders.

He also performs sit-ups while feeding his kids in the video.

"I'm back in the ring Dec 1st - Fighting for those who happen to be a bit down on their luck and are homeless in Aotearoa and Australia. It's an honour to be part of this special event ❤️," posted Williams.

He's in line to make his Test rugby return against the Pumas in Argentina next Sunday, after three months out following a shoulder injury against France.

The cross-code star is set to step back into the ring in December in a charity event for the homeless. Source: Instagram/ sonnybillwilliams