Top sides appear strong as women’s competition starts
Kia Toa and Fob-o¯roua are looking like they will feature at the business end of the rugby season, writes George Heagney.
It’s hard to go past regular contenders Kia Toa and Feilding Old Boys-o¯roua when assessing the teams entered in this year’s women’s club competition.
Linton Army have pulled out this season due to a lack of numbers, but there are still five teams in the competition, which starts today.
Defending champions Kia Toa havemost of the usual suspects back again and the experienced corewho have been at the top in recent years, as well as a handful of newcomers.
Fullback Selica Winiata, a Black Fern and Manawatu¯ legend, will be an influential player as usual, while prop Marilyn Live will be key for them too.
First five-eighth Carys Dallinger will play once her New Zealand Sevens duties are over; lock Jessica Fagan-pease returns; and former Black Ferns outside back Janna Vaughan will play once she recovers from an ankle injury.
Dan Te Huna is the coach this year.
The experienced trio of lock Mahalia Polson, midfielder Maggie Leota and loose forward Marina Canterbury are not available this weekend because they are fighting in a charity boxing event.
Polson and Leota will play all season, while Canterbury will when available.
Regular contenders Feilding Old Boys-o¯roua are also looking strong again with an experienced core returning.
Kristina Sue is coaching again and has a full coaching team along with Ra Dean and former Kia Toa coach Tarehu Solomon.
Hard-working locksashleigh Knight and Rachael Rakatau and livewire loosie Rhiarna Ferriswill be key women for them, but they also have utility back Lauren Balsillie, midfielder Vaine Greig, halfback Lucy Brown and starno 8 Kaipo Olsen-baker all back.
They will have five Manukura schoolgirls in the side this year, including backs Jashana TetueTeuawiri, Mia Maraku and KaiaHayeswalker-waitoa, the latter of whom was amanawatu¯ player last year.
They have lost front rowers Aroha Nuku and Peti-tei Nohotima, but Niwa Gotty-ogden and Emmahatzen should fill the void in the front row and OlsenBaker’s older sister Te Uarangi Olsen will play hooker.
Utility back Takitimu-cook has moved to Mount Maunganui to be closer to the NZ Sevens setup.
Whanganui Metro, a new side last year, are back again and will be led by former Black Ferns prop Sosoli Talawadua.
They have lost a couple of last year’s gun props in Lavenia NaugaGrey, who injured her anterior cruciate ligament in her knee and just had surgery, and Montel Aki, who hasmoved to Palmerston North. They have converted last year’s first five-eighth Charis Perofeta into a prop who has the size to compete in the front row.
Halfback Riana Tamati, just out of Whanganuihigh School, should be a good pickup, and they have gained flanker Shaq Hall, who had been in Bay of Plenty and Nelson.
Varsity are looking settled this year with a smattering of rep players. No 8 Layla Sae will play until she goes to Japan later in the season, and they have Manawatu¯ players in wing Alesha Williams, first five-eighth Laura Claridge, lock Kahurangi Sturmey and prop Ngano Tavake.
Coached again by Campbell Macneill, they also have good depth with other squad members who will push the rep players.
Lock Aliena Wallis has moved down from Taranaki and they have gained lock Chloe Henderson from Kia Toa.
Tasman wing Sydnee Wilkins will play.
Utility back Rangimarie Sturmey will miss the club season after breaking her ankle during the women’s club trainingmodules.
Bush have been bolstered this season by the addition of a few Linton players.
Manawatu¯ flanker Sam Tipene will run the team again and they have props Katelyn Donaldson and Ruby Ngaruhe back.
One big addition is utility Crystalmayes from Linton, while front rower Kahli Tipene, who missed last season while pregnant, is back and first five-eighth Corrineke Windle, who played rugby league last year, will play.
First five-eighth Paigewalker is out with a knee injury and No 8 Emma Aldworth is pregnant and won’t play.
But they have a few new players who have come from other codes and across the region.
Saturday’s draw: Whanganui Metro v Kia Toa, Whanganui, 12pm; Varsity v Feilding OB
roua, 12.45pm; Bush bye.