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It has been a long winter for Lini Kaufana and Emma Leonard.

After the end of last year’s New Zealand rugby season, the two Waitaki Wahine rugby players went to England to play for Henly Rugby Club, west of London.

With 10 new players, it has been a rebuilding year for the Berkshire club, which plays in the Championship South division.

At present, the team is sitting seventh out of eight teams, but the pair told the Oamaru Mailthe side was improving as the season went on.

And it has not been all about rugby – Kaufana and Leonard have managed to spend time travelling, catching some sun in other parts of Europe, such as Italy and Malta.

Berkshire sorted Kaufana and Leonard out with jobs and accommodation at the Phyllis Court Country Club, in Henly-on-Thames, which had led to Leonard picking up a new sport – croquet.

“It has become a sport that I have a new found love for. I have learned from some of England’s best and hope to continue with my newfound passion in New Zealand,” she said.

They had been well looked after, and the team had an excellent culture, Kaufana said.

“The girls are welcoming and are always there if we need a hand with anything,” she said.

“It has been a very good vibe, and we have meet some really good people at work as well as rugby.

“We could not complain about not having been looked after well here at all.”

The rugby was a lot more forward-orientated and physical, which meant some sore bodies the day after games, they said.

They are both planning on returning to New Zealand for another season with the Waitaki Wahine.