Aspiring netballer Jaya Stanley has a remarkable sporting pedigree as a descendant of two generations of both All Blacks and Silver Ferns.
Jaya, 12, is the daughter of former All Black Jeremy Stanley and ex-Silver Fern Anna Stanley (née Rowberry), her coach for the Baradene College of the Sacred Heart team at this week’s AIMS Games in Tauranga.
Jeremy is the son of 27-test All Blacks centre Joe Stanley and Anna is the daughter of former Silver Fern Brenda Rowberry, so as well as growing up with parents who played international sport, Jaya’s grandparents have an illustrious sporting background, too.
In total, Jaya’s grandfather Joe, a stalwart in a revered Auckland team from 1984-91, made 49 appearances for the All Blacks from 1986-91. He started the 1987 Rugby World Cup final win (29-9) over France and was a member of the fabled Baby Blacks who beat France 18-9 in 1986.
Jaya’s two younger brothers, 11-year-old Nico and eight-year-old Zac, are also “good little rugby players” but have chosen to play football.
“The dark side as we say”, joked mother Anna, who won 91 caps for the Silver Ferns from 1994-2007.
Jaya’s father Jeremy would play only three tour matches and no tests for the All Blacks in the UK in 1997, but the former Auckland centre – the same position as his father – played Super Rugby for the Blues, Highlanders and Hurricanes before an injury cut his career short in 2001.
As well as netball, Jaya dances and plays touch rugby which she enjoys. “It’s good to get a mix between dad and mum,” she said.
Netball has the most participating teams (125) at the 16th AIMS Games, a week-long event featuring more than 11,500 intermediate-aged athletes from New Zealand and the Pacific.
With her school from Remuera in Auckland, Jaya is one of five daughters of former All Blacks playing netball in Tauranga this week.
Jaya smiled and said she was lucky with her sporting genes. However, “I don’t really think about it much. I love how mum coaches my netball team.
“It makes me love sports because they did sports and I want to continue playing netball like my mum did. I would like to be a Silver Fern one day.”
Anna Stanley can relate to her daughter. Her mother Brenda, Jaya’s grandmother, was a Silver Fern in the 1970s.
“I didn’t really look at her as a famous sporting parent,” she said. “My mum was heavily involved in netball and she coached me right through, so it was nice to have a parent who knew what she was talking about.
“Her expectations were often greater but I put a lot of high expectations on myself. I didn’t really mind having a screaming parent on the sidelines.”
Stanley’s career highlight was a Netball World Cup win in 2003 and she was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2004.
“Sport is a big part of our life but it’s not the only thing,” she continued. “We’re a very outdoorsy family. We love going boating and hanging out with family.
“I’ve always wanted my kids to grow up playing sport and they learn a lot of life skills that I have learned as a player. I want my kids to learn that.”
Fishing is also on the menu, then Jaya says “playing cricket at the bach”. Those games of backyard cricket must be some of the most competitive in New Zealand.
Among this year’s World Cup-winning Silver Ferns, Jaya looks up to captain Laura Langman but always turns to her mother after games.
“After every game, I ask mum ‘what can I do better and what can I improve on?’ There are good tips and tricks.”