Portia Woodman-Wickliffe retirement: All Blacks heap praise on Black Ferns star

The All Blacks have paid tribute to Black Ferns star Portia Woodman-Wickliffe, who has announced her retirement from rugby after the Paris Olympics.

Woodman-Wickliffe was a Rugby World Cup winner in 2017 and 2022, a Sevens World Cup champion in 2013 and 2018, an Olympic gold and silver medallist and Commonwealth Games gold and bronze medallist.

She was named World Rugby’s Sevens Player of the Year in 2015, Women’s Player of the Year (XVs) in 2017 and in 2020 was named as the top women’s sevens player of the past decade.

The All Blacks are in camp preparing for their opening test of the season against England in Dunedin this weekend, and lock Patrick Tuipulotu expressed surprise at Woodman-Wickliffe’s impending retirement, describing her as one of rugby’s greatest ever players.

Black Ferns's Portia Woodman-Wickliffe scores a try despite the opposition of Australia's Maddison Levi during the HSBC World Rugby Sevens women's semifinal match between Australia and New Zealand at the Metropolitano stadium in Madrid on June 2, 2024.

“She’s probably got 10 more years to go,” Tuipulotu said.

“A rugby powerhouse, she’s certainly left her legacy there. She’s certainly paved the way for women’s rugby in New Zealand. She’s had a big impact.

“I’m sure she’ll be missed, but I think she won’t be too far away from helping out again in the rugby scene.”

Woodman-Wickliffe is record holder in both forms of the sport, having scored the most tries in rugby world cups, with 20, the most tries in a Black Ferns Test, with eight, and the most tries in Sevens World Series history with 256.

Patrick Tuipulotu, All Blacks public training session, Rugby Park, Whakatane, New Zealand, Tuesday 22nd September 2020. Copyright photo: John Cowpland / www.photosport.nz

Tuipulotu said her resume was unparalleled in rugby.

“You compare that to my CV and it’s pretty outrageous, haha.

“She’s done so much in her time and I wouldn’t be surprised if she still gives a lot (to the game).”

The All Blacks new vice captain, Jordie Barrett, said Woodman-Wickliffe was a special player.

“Outstanding contribution from Portia, not just in New Zealand but globally where she’s been a trailblazer for women’s rugby. One hell of a career and some superb stat lines to go with it.”

Jordie Barrett after winning the Quarter Final match Ireland v New Zealand All Blacks at the Rugby World Cup France 2023. Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France on Saturday 14 October 2023. Photo credit: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

Barrett said she was one of the best players New Zealand had ever produced.

“Her resume speaks for itself and there’s no denying she’s had an unbelievable career that her and her family can be proud of.”

New Zealand’s Portia Woodman-Wickliffe races away from the Great Britain defence for a try on day one of the Madrid Sevens.

In a social media post, Woodman-Wickliffe reflected on her time playing for the Black Ferns and Black Ferns Sevens.

“After 12 incredible years representing New Zealand in sevens and 15s, the upcoming Paris Olympics will be my last time playing in the black jersey,” she said.

“Rugby has provided me more than a career, it’s given me a second whānau in my sisters, opportunities to see the world and experience things I never would have otherwise. One last dance with my sisters in Paris.”

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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