September 01, 2020

Farah Palmer Cup Preview | Waikato

Waikato have plenty of star power in their squad for the upcoming Farah Palmer Cup season, with Black Ferns Sevens and Black Ferns linking up with a healthy mix of rookies. Waikato will get be the first challenger for the Chiefs Country when they face Bay of Plenty on Saturday 19 September.

Coaches: James Semple (Head coach), Cody price (Assistant coach)
Position in 2019: 6th in Premiership

Talking points:
Expect to see a much-improved performance from the Waikato side in 2020. They only picked up the one win last season, but with a brand new coaching staff and several Black Ferns Sevens stars, Waikato promise to be a strong outfit in this year’s Farah Palmer Cup.

They’ll be delighted to have Stacey Fluhler (nee Waaka) in the mix. The 24 year-old had a breakthrough year on the HSBC World Sevens Series. In a shortened 2019/20 season, Fluhler scored 155 points, 31 tries, made 101 runs and 38 breaks, all with that contagious smile on her face. Black Ferns midfielder Chelsea Alley will captain the side again this year, with 2019 Female Club Player of the Year Chyna Hohepa as her vice-captain. Alley is Waikato’s top points scorer with 324 and she’ll be looking to build on her 36 caps for the province.

Alley and Carla Hohepa, are joined in the squad by fellow Black Ferns Toka Natua and Kennedy Simon, while Black Ferns Sevens players Cheyelle Robins-Reti, Huia Harding and Tenika Willison join Fluhler in Waikato colours.

Eight rookies have been named in the squad, eying up their first cap for Waikato in 2020. They are Tafiau Fetalaiga, Kelsey Teneti, Kihikihi’s Marania Paraone, Mia Anderson, Manaia Nuku, Sina Hetet, Taiari Cassidy and Daeja-Bernice Kaponga.

Waikato lost the Chiefs County Cup last year, going down to Bay of Plenty who are current holders. The trophy is contested by Waikato, Counties Manukau and Bay of Plenty, so they’ll be looking to win it back this season. They play the Volcanix on Saturday 19 September at Rotorua International Stadium.

Incoming players
Carla Hohepa (Black Ferns), Grace Houpapa (year off), Kanyon Paul (year off), Stacey Fluhler (Black Ferns Sevens), Cheyelle Robins-Reti (Black Ferns Sevens), Tenika Willison (Black Ferns Sevens), Makaia Riki-Te Kanawa (year off), Ariana Bayler (returns from injury), Hannah Brough (birth of daughter), Mia Anderson (Northland), Daeja-Bernice Kaponga (debut), Kelsey Teneti (debut), Manaia Nuku (debut), Merania Paraone (debut), Sina Tainefu (debut), Tafiau Fetalaiga (debut)

Outgoing players
Rina Paraone (unavailable), Awhina Tangen-Wainohu (unavailable), Donna Fermanis (birth of daughter)

Player to watch: Mia Anderson
The 18 year-old Northlander made her Farah Palmer Cup debut last year for the Kauri and has moved down the line to Hamilton for University. The talented loose forward played in the Waikato club competition for Melville, who won the premier women’s competition. Anderson was selected for last year’s Red Bull Ignite7 tournament and will be a player to keep an eye out for this season.

Waikato squad
Mia Anderson, Taiari Cassidy, Ash Gaby-Sutherland, Tafiau Fetalaiga, Huia Harding, Emma-Lee Heta, Sina Hetet, Carla Hohepa, Chyna Hohepa, Grace Houpapa-Barrett, Tanya Kalounivale, Daeja-Bernice Kaponga, Leomie Kloppers, Stephanie Lualua, Toka Natua, Merania Paraone, Kennedy Simon, Esther Tilo-Faiaoga, Chelsea Alley, Ariana Bayler, Tyra Begbie, Hannah Brough, Stacey Fluhler, Renee Holmes, Kiriana Nolan, Manaia Nuku, Kanyon Paul, Cheyelle Robins-Reti, Makaia Riki-Te Kanawa, Kelsey Teneti, Tenika Willison

Waikato draw
Waikato v Northland
Saturday 5 September
12.30pm University of Waikato

Waikato v Taranaki
Saturday 12 September
11.35am FMG Stadium Waikato

Bay of Plenty v Waikato*
Saturday 19 September
4.35pm Rotorua Int Stadium

Waikato BYE
Saturday 26 September

Waikato v Counties Manukau
Saturday 3 October
12.30pm Putaruru

North Harbour v Waikato
Saturday 10 October
1pm at Mahurangi RFC

Auckland v Waikato
Saturday 17 October
3pm Eden Park

Farah Palmer Cup Preview | Waikato