Super Rugby Aupiki has been boosted by the return of former Black Ferns Sevens star Niall Williams-Guthrie, who has signed with the Blues following a stint in the NRLW.
After a decorated Sevens career spanning two Olympic campaigns and two Commonwealth Games events, Williams-Guthrie took the opportunity to play with the Gold Coast Titans in the NRLW in 2023.
After 11 appearances for the Titans in her first rugby league season, the Blues have announced she is returning to Auckland for a stint in the 15s game.
“Anyone that knows me, knows I’m a massive fan of this city and the Blues region. I’m an Aucklander and I can’t wait to represent this place with pride and passion,” said Williams-Guthrie.
“I haven’t played a lot of 15s but I’m here to learn and give where I can. I’m not trying to come in and be the next big thing, but I think I can offer some experience and perspectives from my time with the Sevens.
“I’ve taken on the Muma Bear role in recent years, although I prefer big sis – surely I can still get away with that?!”
Williams-Guthrie will become the second sibling in her family to represent the Blues, her high-profile brother Sonny played for the club for three seasons from 2017-19.
“Sonny jokes around saying I’m trying to copy him and follow him round! But in all seriousness, he’s been a pioneer in putting himself in uncomfortable positions and testing himself.
“I admire him for that and I’ve tried to do the same – when it’s uncomfortable it often leads to something rewarding and exciting.”
The 35-year-old said she remembers chasing after Spencer back in his playing days for an autograph.
“The personnel they have on board for this campaign is crazy, both players and management, there’s so much talent!” Williams-Guthrie said.
“I do remember one moment from back in the day when Carlos came to my school, Avondale College, when he was with the All Blacks. They were heading to get on the bus and I sprinted over, ripped a sheet of my refill pad and shoved it through the fence which he graciously signed for me!”
“I loved his flair and swagger back in the day for the Blues, he epitomised what the club pride itself on and I’m looking forward to working with Carlos, Willie and the rest of the coaching group.”