Head Coach Wes Clarke has named his team to kick off the Hurricanes Poua’s Sky Super Rugby Aupiki campaign on Tuesday against the Waitomo Chiefs Manawa at Hamilton’s FMG Stadium.
Having been forced to withdraw from the first round of matches, the match creates a historic first for the Hurricanes and presents an exciting opportunity for the team to enter the competition.
Hurricanes General Manager of Rugby, Tony Philp said; “It’s really exciting. It’s another step forward in our evolution as a club.”
“We are really proud of our Hurricanes Poua, and it will be incredible to finally see our team play and get their competition underway. It’s an opportunity to unite and excite our club, community and inspire more girls to be involved in our great sport.”
25 players have been named, in line with the Sky Super Rugby Aupiki player welfare regulations.
Upfront – Counties Manukau loosehead Leilani Perese partners Manawatū's Jayme Nuku and Marilyn Live.
In the second row - Manawatū skipper Rachael Rakatau and Wellington's Joanah Ngan-Woo will combine.
Inspirational Black Ferns Sevens Captain Sarah Hirini starts on the openside, with the powerful duo of Layla Sae and Kaipo Olsen-Baker at six and eight.
“It’s exciting to see players like Kaipo Olsen-Baker come back from a serious ACL injury when she was certainly one of the rising stars of New Zealand rugby. Gossy [Sarah Hirini] is back playing 15s for the first time since the World Cup in 2017, so it will be great to see her back on the park,” said Clarke.
Taranaki Whio and Black Ferns half-back Iritana Hohaia teams up with her Youth Olympic Gold Medal winning teammate Carys Dallinger in the insides. Midfielders Monica Tagoai and dual-international Janna Vaughan link up.
In an all-international back three – the electric Ayesha Leti-I'iga, Cheyelle Robins-Reti and Selica Winiata round out an exciting XV, named by Coach Wes Clarke.
On an extended reserves bench – up to 10 players will be looking to add their impact with Black Fern Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate, Esther Tilo-Faiaoga and Ngano Tavake covering the front row.
The elder of the Sturmey sisters, Kahurangi will cover the locks, while Pahiatua born Sam Tipene, and athletic Manawatū loosie Rhiarna Ferris round out the forward replacements.
In the backs – Manusina and former Queensland Reds half-back Ana Afuie will be keen to add to her Super Rugby caps. Teilah Ferguson will inject a strong running game in midfield, alongside experienced Black Ferns Sevens and Defence Blacks outside Crystal Mayes and the younger Sturmey sister, Rangimarie.
“It will be a goosebump moment when the whistle blows, and we see the very first Hurricanes women’s team take the field,” said Clarke.
Hurricanes CEO Avan Lee echoed Clarke’s comment adding that the club was immensely proud of their inaugural team.
“This has been a long time in the making, so it’s good to finally be here.”
“We are so proud of our inaugural Hurricanes Poua.”
“It’s a really special occasion for our club, and we know what it means for the players, their families, and rugby in New Zealand.”
Hurricanes Poua team to face the Waitomo Chiefs Manawa:
1 Leilani Perese
2 Jayme Nuku
3 Marilyn Live
4 Rachael Rakatau
5 Joanah Ngan-Woo
6 Layla Sae
7 Sarah Hirini (c)
8 Kaipo Olsen-Baker
9 Iritana Hohaia
10 Carys Dallinger
11 Ayesha Leti-I'iga
12 Monica Tagoai
13 Janna Vaughan
14 Cheyelle Robins-Reti
15 Selica Winiata
16 Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate
17 Ngano Tavake
18 Esther Tilo-Faiaoga
19 Kahurangi Sturmey
20 Sam Tipene
21 Ana Afuie
22 Rhiarna Ferris
23 Teilah Ferguson
24 Crystal Mayes
25 Rangimarie Sturmey