Richards flies to train­ing

Manawatu Standard - - SPORT - Peter Lampp [email protected]

One of New Zealand’s best known and most ex­pe­ri­enced Black Ferns is play­ing for the Manawatu women’s side.

Anna Richards is pay­ing her own way to fly to Palmer­ston North each week to play and train with the team un­der new coach Justin Doolan.

They kick off their first-divi­sion sea­son against Richards’ home side, Auck­land Storm, at the Sport and Rugby In­sti­tute at Massey Univer­sity at 12.30pm to­mor­row.

Richards, now aged 46 and a vet­eran of 49 tests, was ap­par­ently not wanted by Auck­land and Doolan said her aim is to get back in to the Black Ferns’ side.

Iron­i­cally she is now in the same team as Sel­ica Wini­ata who couldn’t dis­place Richards from last year’s World Cup-win­ning New Zealand side.

Wini­ata is play­ing at full­back and Richards at first-five.

Richards, who has a de­gree in law, flies to Palmer­ston North on Fri­day nights, stays and plays over the week­ends, trains on Mon­day nights and then flies home to her job.

New Zealand prop-hooker and Hun­ter­ville shep­herd Ruth McKay isn’t play­ing this year.

But Manawatu can call on Aotearoa sevens player Sarah Goss at cen­tre, fast wing Mal­lory Townsend, five-eighth Aimee Gil­bert, who had New Zealand rugby league team as­pi­ra­tions, and ex­pe­ri­enced half­back Kristina Sue.

There’s also for­mer New Zealand player, No 8 Ma­rina Can­ter­bury, who has a knee in­jury and for now is the team’s as­sis­tant man­ager.

Doolan is also await­ing New Zealand Rugby Union ap­proval to play four girls from Feild­ing High School. There are an­other four play­ers from Strat­ford, the team from Taranaki play­ing along­side Kia Toa, Feild­ing Old Boys-Oroua and Massey Univer­sity in the Manawatu competition.

As­sist­ing the en­thu­si­as­tic Doolan, a Palmer­ston North Boys’ High School teacher, is John Kendal, a for­mer Wairarapa-Bush player and a ref­eree. They coached the FOBOroua women’s team this year.

Doolan ini­tially sought the Manawatu un­der-14 boys’ rep­re­sen­ta­tive side coach­ing po­si­tion, but when told the women’s head coach­ing job was va­cant, he jumped at it.

He has a back­ground in pro­fes­sional rugby.

Af­ter play­ing for the Boys’ High 1st XV, he played for the High School Old Boys’ un­der-21s be­fore head­ing over­seas to play in Ire­land and Eng­land in the 1990s. There he played for Metropoli­tan Po­lice, Lon­don New Zealand and the Mid­dle­sex team which toured Ar­gentina and Chile.

In Ire­land, he played for Shan­non and started girls’ rugby in Tralee be­fore play­ing full­time for three years in Ja­pan with Toshiba. Since then he’s has 12 years of coach­ing at Boys’ High.

To­mor­row, Manawatu have a huge job against an Auck­land team which are usu­ally made up en­tirely of in­ter­na­tional play­ers. Doolan has gone for fast, fit, mo­bile women and left out five pre­vi­ous reps who had walked in to pre­vi­ous Manawatu teams. They were not im­pressed, but he’s big on fit­ness.

‘‘Auck­land will be a big day out,’’ he said. ‘‘We’re up against it, but South­land won the Ran­furly Shield, so noth­ing’s im­pos­si­ble.’’

Manawatu women’s team. — For­wards:

1 Anne-Maree Braben­der (Kia Toa), 2 Bri­die Vir­bickas (FOB-Oroua), 3 Rachelle Richard­son (Kia Toa) cap­tain, 4 Jaymi Ngaia (FOBOroua), 5 Ni­cole Dick­ins (FOB-Oroua), 6 Sarah McLeod (Kia Toa), 7 Chantelle Long (FOBOroua), 8 Jesse Lampe (Massey Univer­sity), 9 Zoe Whata­rau (Kia Toa), 10 Ash­leigh Gee (Strat­ford), 11 Amy Cock­ayne (FOB-Oroua), 12 Cindy Ru­pepera (Kia Toa), 13 Car­rie Lobb (FOB-Oroua).

14 Kristina Sue (FOBOroua) vice-cap­tain), 15 Anna Richards (Auck­land), 16 Aimee Gil­bert (FOB-Oroua). 17 Ge­orgina Mar­shall (FOB-Oroua), 18 Lau­ren Burgess (Strat­ford), 19 Sarah Goss (FOB-Oroua).

20 Steph Downer (FOB-Oroua), 21 Ale­sha Brider (Strat­ford), 22 Chrissy Longstaff (Strat­ford), 23 Varnie Grieg (FOB-Oroua). 24 Sel­ica Wi­nata (Kia Toa), 25 Mal­lory Townsend (Kia Toa), 26 Hay­ley Hu­tana (FOB-Oroua).

Backs – Five eighths:





Mak­ing a break: North Har­bour’s Nafi Tuitavake claps on the gas dur­ing last night’s NPC match against Hawke’s Bay at Al­bany.

Valu­able re­cruit: New Zealand first five-eighth, cen­tre, Anna Richards has found her new rugby home in Manawatu.

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