November 28, 2023

Chiefs Manawa squad announced for 2024

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An impressive Chiefs Manawa squad has been named to contest the 2024 Sky Super Rugby Aupiki competition. The dynamic group selected features players from the Black Ferns, Black Ferns XV and Kiwi Ferns that will bring a varied skillset to light up the field.

A lot of continuity is maintained from previous seasons with some sensational players returning to the Hamilton-based side in the form of Ariana Bayler, Ruby Tui and Renee Holmes.

Further accentuating the teams’ depth are exciting new signings Northland prop Krystal Murray and Canterbury utility back Grace Steinmetz, who bring a wealth of experience from their time in the black jersey.

Chiefs Manawa Head Coach Crystal Kaua said: “We have selected a team that by nature plays to our DNA – brutal and beautiful. Players that love the dark spaces, are decisive, instinctive and wanting to play what’s in front.

“Every player and staff member brings their unique piece to our team puzzle. There will be no lack of edge, and weekly selection is going to be tough.”

Following playing breaks to have their children, former Black Fern and Black Fern Sevens star Chelsea Semple and Black Fern XV representative Mia Anderson are set to run out in Chiefs colours again this coming season.

Also named in the side are six rookies who have secured their first Sky Super Rugby Aupiki contracts. Waikato loose forward Ashlee Gaby-Sutherland and Reese Anderson impressed throughout the Farah Palmer Cup (FPC) to earn their spot, while former netballer Grace Kukutai signs after playing sevens overseas the last few years. Bay of Plenty’s Olive Watherston also earned a promotion to the main squad after being part of the wider training group in 2022. Powerhouse internationals Seina Saito (Japan) and Bitila Tawake (Fiji) will make their debut in the new year too.

“No position is a given and every day is going to be an arm wrestle,” said Kaua, “Our players are going to have to come in ready.

“This group cares about each other and the provinces they come from, they will be doing everything they can to make our community proud. We are excited to see it all weave together and see how we can maximise the potential of this team.”

Players will assemble in the new year to begin their preparations for the 2024 Sky Super Rugby Aupiki season.

Chiefs Manawa Squad 2024: (region, Chiefs Manawa caps)
Apii Nicholls (Auckland, 4)
Ariana Bayler (Waikato, 4)
Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu (Counties Manukau, 9)
Ashlee Gaby-Sutherland (Waikato, 0)*
Azalleyah Maaka (Bay of Plenty, 5)
Bitila Tawake (Fiji, 0)*
Charmaine Smith (Northland, 5)
Chelsea Bremner (Canterbury, 5)
Chelsea Semple (Waikato, 3)
Chyna Hohepa (Waikato, 2)
Georgia Thompson (nee Daals) (Wellington, 7)
Grace Kukutai (Auckland, 0)*
Grace Steinmetz (Canterbury, 0)
Hazel Tubic (Counties Manukau, 9)
Kate Henwood (Bay of Plenty, 5)
Kennedy Simon (Waikato, 9)
Krystal Murray (Northland, 0)
Luka Connor (Bay of Plenty, 9)
Merania Paraone (Waikato, 2)
Mererangi Paul (Counties Manukau, 5)
Mia Anderson (Waikato, 2)
Olive Watherston (Bay of Plenty, 0)*
Reese Anderson (Waikato, 0)*
Renee Holmes (Waikato, 1)
Ruby Tui (Counties Manukau, 3)
Seina Saito (Japan, 0)*
Tanya Kalounivale (Waikato, 9)
Te Urupounamu McGarvey (Bay of Plenty, 4)
Vici-Rose Green (Waikato, 1)
Victoria Edmonds (Waikato, 8)

*denotes a rookie

Chiefs Manawa Wider Training Squad:
Payton Takimoana (Bay of Plenty)
Lela Ieremia (Waikato)
Shoshanah Seumanutafa (Canada)
Veisinia Fakalelu (Waikato)

Unavailable For Selection:
Awhina Tangen-Wainohu (Waikato)
Santo Taumata (Bay of Plenty)
Angel Mulu (Bay of Plenty)
Carla Hohepa (Waikato)
Kelsie Thwaites (Bay of Plenty)
Tynealle Fitzgerald (Bay of Plenty)
Joanna Fanene-Lolo (Counties Manukau)

All media enquiries to [email protected]

Chiefs Manawa squad announced for 2024