Fijiana 15s prop Lailanie Burnes has and is playing a pivotal role in the growth of women’s rugby in Fiji since relocating to Nadi from Australia 12 years ago.
Burnes, whose mother is from Nairai in the Lomaiviti Islands, founded Nadi Blazers Women Rugby Club, the region’s first female team, in 2012.
The club has gone on to produce a number of Fijiana sevens and 15s players.
One of those is Burnes herself, who has captained Fiji’s 15s side and helped the team qualify for Rugby World Cup 2021.
Playing in the Pacific nation’s first women’s Rugby World Cup campaign in New Zealand next year remains an achievable goal for the prop, but she is already taking steps to ensure that rugby remains in her life once the time comes to hang up her boots.
In March, Burnes completed the Level 3 Coaching Award, on which she was assessed by World Rugby Master Trainer Richard Skelly, while she has also qualified as a World Rugby Coach Educator.
Burnes told World Rugby she is keen to show women in Fiji that they can succeed in a male-dominated space such as rugby and would welcome the opportunity to coach men as well as women.
[Source: World Rugby]