Jorja Miller signs contract to join Black Ferns Sevens squad

16 JANUARY 2022 - Timaru Herlad, Yashas Srinivasa 

Talented young rugby player Jorja Miller has longed to play for her country since taking up the sport as a four-year-old growing up in Timaru – and now, at just 17, she has been named in national Sevens squad.

Miller who is in Mt Maunganui with the rest of the training squad, said she was shocked to learn she had made the 2022 Black Ferns Sevens squad late last year.

“It didn't feel real. I was shocked and just like ‘wow’ and I was pretty excited,” Miller said.

“It's really cool and exciting to be able to train with the girls every day.”

Miller left Timaru Girls’ High School and moved to Christchurch Girls’ High School in 2019, with the goal of making the Black Ferns Sevens team.

“After watching the sevens on the world stage at the Olympics, I thought it was a cool thing to be a part of and started aiming my goals towards there.

“At the moment I’m recovering from a knee surgery and I will just focus on getting my knee back right, and I’m going to take in the knowledge and experience from the older girls and then hopefully game time comes along with that.”

Miller injured her knee last year, and said when she joined the Black Ferns environment they were “pretty keen” on getting it sorted which would be better for her long term and meant she could recover in a good environment.

“It’s a good experience with all the learning that come with it and being able to focus more on little skills like focus more on passing and my rehab which has been pretty good.”

Miller said she started playing rugby when she was four years old and didn't know there was a Black Ferns team back then.

“So, I always wanted to be an All Black, but then I found out there was a Black Ferns team, and I was pretty keen to make it into it.”

She said the support from her family and parents along with her own hard work and the skills she learned as a competitive Highland dancer, had all helped her get to where she is now.

Miller and fellow school-leaver Kelsey Teneti are the two new faces to join the 2022 squad, which will now work towards defending its Olympic title in 2023.

Black Ferns head coach Cory Sweeney had plenty of praise for the two teenagers joining the squad.

“They have been awesome. We had both players in for a few weeks before Christmas, just to see how they would fit in the environment, and they brought an unreal energy and eagerness to learn.

“Its unbelievable that they have only just finished Year 13 at school, we saw in FPC (Farah Palmer Cup) that their potential is huge, so we are looking forward to seeing what impact they can have in the sevens space.”

Timaru Harlequins Rugby and Football Club life member Gareth Burgess said the club was “very, very proud” of Miller.

“She played with us right through to under 13,” Burgess said.

“She’s been talented from a young age, and now she's reaping the rewards for the hard work she's put in. Her talent has got her there.”

“The hard work begins now to stay there as a top-notch player.”

Jorja’s mum, Tracy Miller said the family was pretty excited about the journey and said it was Jorja’s hard work, fitness, training and the support of family and coaches that had made it possible.

A new era for the Black Ferns Sevens kicked off on Wednesday with new players and coaching group setting their sights on the next three years.


Nominated for Halberg Coach of the Year, Cory Sweeney heads the Black Ferns Sevens programme, with long-time coach Stu Ross and newly appointed coaches Ed Cocker and Crystal Kaua.

There are fresh faces in the player roster too with recent school leavers Jorja Miller and Kelsey Teneti joining the Olympic gold medal-winning squad.

Cory Sweeney said there has been a great energy amongst the group as they kick off the year.

“We started the year with sunrise up the top of Mt Maunganui, it was really exciting to have everyone in including our new players and management, the energy was great and everything is ready for an amazing 2022.

”The future of the team is in safe hands with the inclusion of Miller and Teneti.

Miller, a graduate of Christchurch Girls’ High School, was MVP at the Ignite7 tournament in 2020, a regular star at the Condor Sevens and last year was part of the Canterbury Farah Palmer Cup team.

Teneti joins the strong cohort of former Hamilton Girls’ High School players in the Black Ferns Sevens. The 18-year-old was a strong performer in the FPC-winning Waikato team and had previously captained the New Zealand Schools Condor team.

Sweeney heaped praise on the teenagers.

“They have been awesome. We had both players in for a few weeks before Christmas, just to see how they would fit in the environment, and they brought an unreal energy and eagerness to learn.

“Its unbelievable that they have only just finished Year 13 at school, we saw in FPC that their potential is huge so we are looking forward to seeing what impact they can have in the sevens space.

”With the departure of Allan Bunting, who had been part of the coaching set up for 10 years, Sweeney now leads the programme as Head Coach, Ross and Cocker are Assistant Coaches and Kaua is Skills Coach/Performance Analyst.

Cocker is no stranger to the sevens scene, the former All Blacks Sevens player had a successful playing career before the transition into coaching and has held roles with Auckland, worked as a New Zealand Sevens skills coach before holding roles in both Malaysia and Japan.

Kaua first made a name for herself as a coach in establishing what has become a dynasty of schoolgirl rugby at Hamilton Girls' High School. Since then she has held a variety of club, domestic and international roles, most recently working fulltime as a coach in Japan. She becomes the first woman to hold a professional coaching role in the Black Ferns Sevens history.

“They have been really successful over the past few years and we are looking for fresh ideas and innovation. Ed and Crystal can bring something that challenges our current thinking and  will help us progress our game towards Paris 2024," said Sweeney.

World Rugby confirmed this morning that the Black Ferns Sevens will no longer compete in the Spain legs of the World Series. The Government announcement late last month to delay opening the New Zealand border meant the teams would not have been able to re-enter the country after playing.  New Zealand Rugby is currently investigating domestic tournament options for the team while the borders remain closed.

The 2022 Black Ferns Sevens squad is;

PlayerProvincial Union
Shakira BakerBay of Plenty
Micheala BlydeBay of Plenty
Kelly BrazierBay of Plenty
Gayle BroughtonTaranaki
Theresa FitzpatrickAuckland
Stacey FluhlerWaikato
Sarah HiriniManawatu
Jaz HothamWaikato
Shiray KakaWaikato
Jorja MillerCanterbury
Tyla Nathan WongNorthland
Manaia NukuBay of Plenty
Risi Pouri-LaneBay of Plenty
Alena SailiBay of Plenty
Terina Te TamakiWaikato
Kelsey TenetiWaikato
Ruby TuiCounties Manukau
Niall WilliamsAuckland
Tenika WillisonWaikato
Portia WoodmanNorthland

The country’s leading female sevens exponents have been selected for the upcoming Red Bull Ignite7.


The 52 players will spend the next month preparing and will be drafted into teams on 30 November, before the tournament is played at Blake Park in Tauranga on 5-6 December.

Black Ferns Sevens coaches Allan Bunting and Cory Sweeney have selected all of their contracted players along with several stars of the Farah Palmer Cup and emerging sevens talent.

Sweeney said this was a unique opportunity to get the best sevens players from across New Zealand for an exciting tournament.

“We believe with the players who have been selected that this tournament has the potential to be World Class.

“Many of these players were involved in the Farah Palmer Cup which was a great competition this year. We look forward to them stepping things up a notch as they turn their focus to sevens and ultimately the preparation for next year’s Olympics.

“It’s quite unique that the pressure now turns to the captains who will have the difficult task of picking their teams at the draft,” said Sweeney.

All former Red Bull Ignite7 MVPs return for 2020, with Isla Norman Bell, Kalyn Takitimu-Cook, Mererangi Paul, Renee Holmes and Grace Kukatai selected.

Seven 2018 Youth Olympic Gold medallists will be amongst those in the draft with Takitimu-Cook, Risi Pouri-Lane, Mahina Paul, Tynelle Fitzgerald, Tiana Davison and Montessa Tairakena in the selected group.

2019 Condor Sevens MVP Jorja Miller steps up, after leading for Christchurch Girls’ High School to a national title last year she is one of four school-girls that will join the programme as apprentices for the week.

Jorja Miller Red Bull Ignites 7s Rookie Player of the Tournament


Great surprise yesterday when Jorja Miller called in to give an update on her 7s and thank everyone for the ongoing support.

A busy past few weeks with inclusion in the Red Bull Ignite Sevens squad with the best 7s players in NZ, where Jorja was named Rookie of the tournament by the Black Ferns 7s coaches, then last weekend played in the NZ Secondary Schools Condor 7s for CHCH Girls, was named player of the tournament and selected in the NZ 7s Condors team (2nd year in a row) which will play this weekend in the world 7s tournament.

Jorja will also have the experience of some camps next year in the NZ 7s environment to keep building to her goal of pulling on the Black Jersey for the Black Ferns 7s.

Jorja you amaze us all with your drive, determination, your skill levels and ability to constantly perform on the big stage at such a young age, yet stay so humble and you never forget where your roots are.

The Harlies club and the SC Province are proud of your achievements to date, and will continue to support you on your rugby quests.

Congrats also go out to Tracey Miller and Craig Miller for an outstanding daughter, very proud parents.

Jorja Miller's sevens rugby star is shining brightly


Timaru's Jorja Miller is laughing off suggestions she is the "next big star" of women's sevens rugby in New Zealand.

The 15-year-old, who is keen to one day make the Black Ferns, looks to be on the right track however after being named most valuable player at the recent Condor Sevens national sevens tournament in Auckland.

Miller, playing for the Christchurch Girls' High School (CGHS) side that won the open girls' title, was the individual star of the final as she ran in four tries in a 29-14 win over Howick College.Suggestions on a television news bulletin that she was "next big star" of women's sevens are, however, being brushed off.

"That's just TV talk. I just want to keep playing and see where it goes.

Miller was one of only two South Islanders named in the Condor NZ under 18 team to take part in World Schools Tournament in Auckland later this month.

Before joining the team on Monday, the year 11 student made a quick visit home to thank many who have helped her rugby career.

Miller started playing rugby at age four for Harlequins and made an immediate impression among the boys.

"I just liked it, it was fun being able to run and tackle.

"There have been loads of people that have helped me so thanks."

Miller said Hanan Shields coach Mick Geary was one who had really improved her game.

"He taught me a lot about my position."

Miller has the essentials for sevens - speed, agility and nous. She is also a fearless tackler, which started when she was young, and she was in every South Canterbury age-group rugby side up to under 13.

At her final South Island primary tournament she was the only South Canterbury player named in the South Island team.

Miller's success continued at Timaru Girls' High School when named the tournament MVP at the South Island secondary schools tournament while playing for the Hanan Shield team.

She changed from 15-a-side to sevens when she made the Invitational New Zealand Dutch Barbarians and spent two weeks overseas playing tournaments in France and the Netherlands.

She began boarding at CGHS to play a better level on a consistent basis and perhaps gain more exposure and it has paid off.

An open side flanker in the 15-aside game, Miller switched to first receiver in sevens and now prefers that format.

On attack she boasts an excellent sidestep, which may come from her other passion – Highland dancing, which she still competes in nationally.