A humbled Sarah Hirini has credited her Black Ferns teammates after she received the Sport NZ Leadership Award at the Halberg Awards at Auckland on Wednesday.
The Black Ferns Sevens captain and World Cup winner was given the honour after being recognised for her service to both union codes.
Hirini has been a stalwart in the black jersey but was quick to praise those beside her for making her role that much easier.
“To win Team of the Year with the Black Ferns is amazing, we obviously had a really successful year, [and] it’s pretty cool to be recognised at the Halbergs,” she said.
“It’s obviously a really special event in sports in New Zealand, and to be recognised with the leadership award is a real privilege.
“To be able to lead my country in something I really love, I love the group of girls I get to hang out with every day, and to receive this is very humbling.
“A little bit speechless to be honest, but it was nice I got told a little bit earlier, or else I [probably] would’ve cried.
“I’ve seen who’s won that award in the past and I don’t see myself alongside those people, but I know it’s a huge honour to be able to do what I do.”
Hirini’s award capped off a memorable night for the Black Ferns at Spark Arena, with Team of the Year, Coach of the Year [Wayne Smith], and Moment of the Year [World Cup final lineout steal] awards.
She revealed she hasn’t seen her teammates since the World Cup final three months ago but is excited to enter the next Black Ferns chapter under new director of rugby Allan Bunting.
“It’s so awesome to be able to be here with the girls, I haven’t seen them since the World Cup, seeing what they’ve been up to,” she said.
“A lot of them are playing Super Rugby Aupki in the next few weeks, so a little bit of banter going on about what team’s going to win.
“I’m absolutely stoked for Bunts, but probably more importantly, the people that he’s going to make an impact on.
“I know he’s made an impact on me and my career, and I know he’s going to drive that already successful Black Ferns team to a lot more titles with the way that he leads, but he’s going to make great people, which is the most important thing.”
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