The Hurricanes have announced their 2024 Hurricanes Poua squad for the upcoming Sky Super Rugby Aupiki competition.
Hurricanes Poua Head Coach Ngatai Walker has named an exciting squad with 12 new players set to don the Poua jersey in 2024. He’ll also have Black Ferns at his disposal in Layla Sae and Iritana Hohaia who were involved in the recent WXV1 tournament, with one more contracted player set to be announced in his squad of 30.
Walker, who is in charge while regular Head Coach Victoria Grant is away on maternity leave, said he is excited about the make-up of the squad believing it has the potential to produce many future Black Ferns.
“We’re introducing some exciting new talent into the squad with a lot of power and X-factor, so I am very excited about getting to work with these players. We have players like Shakira Baker on board who’s been huge for women’s rugby and will no doubt be a huge inspiration for a lot of the players. I’m also excited that in two or three years we’ll see quite a few of the squad pushing for Black Ferns places, which is what we want.”
One of the exciting new editions coming through is Manawatū lock Samantha Taylor. Relevantly new to rugby itself, Walker has described Taylor as a natural athlete (due to her achievements in athletics, touch rugby and netball) who will be a powerful force on the field.
“Sam is no doubt one of the exciting players who has come in for us. She hasn’t been in rugby that long, but she has that natural ability to succeed in whatever is in front of her which is why she has already made some big strides early in her rugby career which includes being part of the Black Ferns XV.”
The younger players in the squad will also have plenty of experience to bounce off from this season with the likes of former Black Ferns prop Leilani Perese returning to the Poua after spending time away from the game to be a mum.
“It’s great to have Leilani returning. She is a strong and proven scrummager that can play both sides of the scrum but is also a strong ball carrier and defender. Her experience will be vital this season for us with a lot of new players on board.”
Despite the exciting talent coming in, the Poua have also been dealt a huge blow with Black Ferns World Cup winning winger Ayesha Leti-I'iga ruled out of the 2024 Sky Super Rugby Aupiki season with an ACL injury.
“Ayesha is one of the most powerful wingers in world rugby so she will be a big loss to our squad. Everyone here at the Poua wishes her all the best in her recovery and looks forward to her playing a big part in the future when she returns.”
Walker said the coaching staff have set many goals for this season, including plans to bring various areas of development into the Hurricanes Poua environment that they hope will bring long-term success on and off the field.
“One of our big goals this season is that there’s competition for every single place. We want the team to know they must work hard for their spot and that it won’t be handed to them easily.
“I also want us to be really smart and effective in how we play our rugby. I want to be able to empower the players to play what’s in front of them. Where one goes, we all go, while making sure we’ve got the skills to address what’s in front of us.
“Another goal for 2024 and beyond is to empower and develop players and staff that have strong links within the Hurricanes region. We want to continue to build a positive and supportive environment that promotes learning and success and one that will empower our players on and off the field to be the best player and person they can be.
“We want to unite and captivate our whānau and communities across the Hurricanes region through the power of our game. And above all, we aim to inspire young girls, encouraging them to one day become a Hurricanes Poua, Black Ferns and/or a Black Ferns Sevens player. This is how we believe we’ll grow our future.”
Hurricanes General Manager of Rugby Tony Philp echoed Walker’s statement saying the Hurricanes Poua squad is full of talent with the potential for success in 2024 and the years to come.
“‘Unite and Excite’ is part of our club’s vision and we’ve focused our recruitment from within our region to unite Poua to our provinces. The new players will add valued energy into this squad, and we believe this is exciting as they are eager to learn and push for spots.”
The Hurricanes Poua squad will be gathering for a connection camp in December and will return for pre-season camps in January-February, after the Christmas break.
Sky Super Rugby Aupiki kicks off on Saturday, 2 March with the full draw to be announced next week.
Hurricanes Poua Memberships are now on sale for the 2024 Sky Super Rugby Aupiki competition.
Hurricanes Poua 2024 Super Rugby Aupiki Squad
Marilyn Fanoga (nee Live) (Manawatū)
Tori Iosefo (Hawke’s Bay) *
Leilani Perese (Counties-Manukau)
Cilia-Marie Po’e-Tofaeono (Auckland)
Tamia Edwards (Hawke’s Bay) *
Te Uarangi Olsen-Baker (Manawatū) *
Cristo Tofa (Auckland)
Jackie Patea-Fereti (Wellington)
Rachael Rakatau (Manawatū)
Kahurangi Sturmey (Manawatū)
Samantha Taylor (Manawatū) *
Maddie Feaunati (Wellington)
Rhiarna Ferris (Manawatū)
Joanah Ngan-Woo (Wellington)
Elinor-Plum King (Manawatū) *
Layla Sae (Manawatū)
Iritana Hohaia (Taranaki)
Paige Lush (Manawatū) *
Te Rauoriwa Gapper (Canterbury) *
Hannah King (Canterbury) *
Shakira Baker (Japan)
Teilah Ferguson (Hawke’s Bay)
Leilani Hakiwai (Hawke’s Bay) *
Rangimarie Sturmey (Manawatū)
Monica Tagoai (Wellington)
Harmony Kautai (Wellington) *
Holly-Rae Mete (Manawatū) *
Kalyn Takitimu-Cook (Japan) *
Isabella Waterman (Canterbury)
Not considered for selection due to injury
Ayesha Leti-i'iga (Wellington)