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Comm Games heartache to a Black Ferns debut: The meteoric rise of former volleyballer Kelsie Wills

Kelsie Wills looks right at home in the Black Ferns environment.

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Wills will earn her first Black Ferns appearance this weekend – not bad considering she’d never played rugby just two years ago. Source: 1 NEWS

But two years ago she wasn't even playing rugby, let alone getting ready to start at lock for New Zealand.

While Wills admits her whirlwind story is “pretty cool”, her meteoric rise is the kind that could annoy those who've spent their life in the game - like her boyfriend, Bay of Plenty and Highlanders prop Jeff Thwaites.

“He’s probably a bit pissed about it,” Wills laughed.

“It's a bit unfair, isn't it?”

The 27-year-old has sporting pedigree, though.

Wills previously played beach volleyball for New Zealand, only making the switch after a disappointing fifth finish at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Her new teammates, including new Black Ferns captain Eloise Blackwell, say it is Wills’ attitude that's really been the key to her rise.

“She's super keen, she puts her hand up, she wants to be involved,” Blackwell said.

“She's always wanting to be better - that's all you can really ask for in an athlete.”

Wills has had to learn rugby at a rapid pace, from rules to strategy and everything in between. And while she lives with a professional player, practising with Thwaites hasn't been that successful.

“I think we've done like one line out [lift] before and it was quite scary for me,” she said.

“It was quite high!”

No surprise, though, for a Kiwi sports star taking her newfound love to new heights.