'The culture is awesome': Superstar Tigers recruit
SHE runs the 100m in under 12 seconds and the 200m in 24, and has represented the Cook Islands in countless rugby sevens internationals.
Patricia Taea, who has been to the last two Olympics and this year's Commonwealth Games, is an incredible athlete. But that doesn't mean she has any idea where to run on what many consider to be a geometrically warped patch of earth: the Aussie Rules footy field.
Taea, who has donned the yellow and black of the Tweed Coast Tigers for three games of Northern Rivers footy this season, says she often finds herself a little bit bamboozled out on the footy oval.
"I really didn't think it would be that hard,” Taea said. "It was so fun and I really enjoyed it, but it was obvious I had never played before.”
Although she found herself a little out of position at times, the rugby sevens veteran, who is a fixture in the Cook Islands national team, said she found Aussie Rules a little more bruise-free than rugby sevens.
"The biggest difference I found was less contact,” she said. "In Aussie Rules I get more space to run and I know no one is going to hit me really hard.”
Taea finished her short-term stint with the Tigers last weekend, helping her team-mates to a 12 goal win over Byron Bay. Everyone down at Tiger Land said her improvement in just a short time was off the charts.
And while she admits that "no one plays or watches AFL in the Cook Islands”, Taea has not ruled out making a return to the club, with the Tiger women having made a warming impression.
"The girls say they'd like to have me back and I would love to,” Taea said.
"They're an awesome bunch and so positive all the time.
"They make training super fun and they have a lot of passion for the sport. They helped me learn the rules before playing and the girls are a really close unit - I really like that.”