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On any other day Kiana Takairangi would have been scrambling to get enough tickets for all of her family and friends, but instead this Saturday will have just a handful of her nearest and dearest at Mt Smart Stadium to witness her Kiwi Ferns debut.

The rest will be watching on from a television in Sydney, where older brother and Parramatta Eels player Brad is holding a large gathering for his 30th birthday.

Speaking to ahead of playing Fetu Samoa, Takairangi said the clash of dates had initially caused some tension.

"When I first mentioned the game to Brad he said, 'Na don't go, play for them later on in the year'," she said.  

"He didn't want me to miss the party or tempt my family to come over. But I told him I was going anyway and he was excited for me.

"I've pretty much ruined his party, but I don't feel guilty. I'll try and score him a try.

"I just have some friends that live locally coming, no family from home, but that's OK and hopefully there will be some opportunities later in the year where they can come and see me play.

Kiwi Ferns Kiana Takairangi.
Kiwi Ferns Kiana Takairangi.

"They will have the game on at the party, 100 per cent."

Takairangi, who plays for the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at club level, committed to rugby league in 2017 following a stint with the Los Angeles Temptation in the Legends Football League.

Earlier this month the utility back scored a try in NSW City's 34-4 win over NSW Country in the Harvey Norman Women's National Championships grand final.

I've pretty much ruined Brad's party, but I don't feel guilty. I'll try and score him a try.

Kiana Takairangi

Australian-born with both Cook Islands and New Zealand heritage, Takairangi was eligible for all three nations but has opted to follow in the footsteps of Brad, who made his Kiwis debut during the 2017 World Cup while Kiana was representing the Cook Islands.

"Brad spoke really highly of the experience, loved being in camp, loved being around the boys and being around that culture that we missed growing up," Takairangi said.

"I have been following Brad since I was a little kid, so it felt like the right thing to do after he played for the Kiwis. I grew up copying Brad doing the haka because he loved it.

"I think missing out on the Kiwis himself was tough, but he knows I am here representing our family.

"I'm proud to be Maori and New Zealand is where my mum is from, so it's an honour to be here."

Kiana Takairangi in action for Cook Islands at the 2017 World Cup.
Kiana Takairangi in action for Cook Islands at the 2017 World Cup. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

Kiwi Ferns coach Justin Morgan said while Takairangi's performances this year warranted selection, the decision to pick her and fellow uncapped players Jules Newman, Madison Bartlett and Charntay Poko was also about looking ahead to the 2021 World Cup.

"For us to be successful as a nation between now and 2021 we are going to need more than just the 19 players that are here," Morgan said.

"I really enjoyed Kiana's athleticism and I think she has got some real growth in her game and can really develop over the next little while.

"It was important for us to pick players who were in good form, and Kiana's in good form."


Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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