Woodman primed for second Cup crack
It has taken longer than she expected, with a stopover in a sport foreign to most in this part of the world, but Shontelle Woodman is determined to fulfil her Rugby League World Cup dream at the end of the year.
After missing the opportunity in 2013 due to the birth of daughter, Arahi-Rose, Woodman then dedicated herself to a different goal on the world stage, shifting across to kabaddi, a growing global team sport played predominantly in South Asia, helping the New Zealand women's team to a silver medal at the 2014 World Cup.
"It was something different that you never think you will get to go to, and to go to a place like India and play was amazing," Woodman told NRL.com.
"I went along to a few trainings and enjoyed the sport, and we had a few girls in the team who played rugby.
"To come second was pretty amazing, and even though it's small in the way that not too many people know about it or play it in New Zealand or Australia, it is huge in India and places like that."
Her time in kabaddi, which she combined with playing league in the Auckland women's competition, also had benefits for the 30-year-old centre's development on the footy field.
"Some little technical parts are similar to league, because you need to know how to take someone down in the correct way so you don't get hurt as well," she said.
"So it definitely comes into my mind when I am doing my contact and tackling now."
Having last represented the Kiwi Ferns in 2015, Woodman now has her eyes firmly set on making the final New Zealand squad alongside twin sister Sharnita Woodman, a dual national league and union representative who is back in the frame after the New Zealand Rugby League altered rules to allow Australian-based players to be eligible for the Kiwi Ferns this month.
"It was always the goal for me and Sharnita, obviously having a baby changed the time frame, but I have been working over the last few years to make sure I am ready," Shontelle said.
"We have played two league Tests together. It was amazing, and we were both big Brisbane Broncos fans so playing at Suncorp Stadium and winning a Test there was special.
"We check in with each other a lot right now, make sure we are both working, make each other push that bit harder.
"The preparation is going pretty well, I am getting about two sessions in a day and working on the things the coach wants from me.
"It's just about making sure you stay in the right frame of mind."
Kiwi Ferns coach Tony Benson said Shontelle had stood out in all of the trials so far this year, highlighting her commitment to the World Cup, which sees her doing a number of personal training sessions on top of weekly team activities.
"'Shonny' was one of the standout centres in both attack and defence at our nationals. Her decision making with ball in hand is outstanding, and her defence is very solid, so I am excited to have her in the squad," Benson said.
"She trains so hard, she's doing boxing and other things and getting herself into great shape.
"Like all of them, her commitment is amazing, I am in awe of them, this week at training Shonny had her vehicle there, with a mattress in the back and her child watching TV while she trained. They do all this while juggling other stuff in their lives."