March 09, 2023

Waitomo Chiefs Manawa ready for a spectacle at home

The Waitomo Chiefs Manawa return home for round three of Sky Super Rugby Aupiki to face southern rivals Matatū. The team is excited to be playing in front of friends, family and fans as they look to maintain their place at the top of the table.

“Matatū will be a battle, both games last year were close. We're looking forward to the arm wrestle at the set piece and the speed of the game that both teams will bring,” said Waitomo Chiefs Manawa head coach Crystal Kaua.

“It's our first home game for 2023 there will be a lot of whānau, friends and fans to support us, we want to put on a performance that we are proud of.

“Selection is always tough, but we know our bench brings some real firepower. They are impactful and when they come on they lift our whole team.

“Our pack has delivered the last two weeks, and physicality has been important for us but we need to be clinical when it matters. Our back three were dynamic and we are excited to see that combo get another week together. We took a lot out of the Blues game, but we still have a lot of work to do,” continued Kaua.

The in-form team continues to build continuity with only minor changes to last week's lineup. Awhina Tangen-Wainohu moves into the starting lineup which sees Kate Henwood start off the bench this week. The strong Black Ferns front row is completed with Luka Connor and Tanya Kalounivale, whilst the strong locking duo of Kelsie Thwaites and Chelsea Bremner remains the same.

Captain Kennedy Simon will guide the team in the number 8 jersey and vice-captain Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu will return as halfback.

The impressive outside backs combination created many memorable moments in last week's game against the Blues, including a hat-trick to Mererangi Paul, a double for Georgia Daals and some fancy footwork to keep the ball in play from Tenika Willison. It should come as no surprise that this lineup also remains the same.

Support off the bench will come from Grace Houpapa-Barrett and Te Urupounamu McGarvey for the front row, with talented loose forwards Dhys Faleafaga and Victoria Makea to add further energy. In their first season with the side, Violet Hapi-Wise, Abigail Roach and league star Apii Nicholls are also named in the playing 23.

The home game against Matatū kicks off at 2.05pm at FMG Stadium Waikato.

Waitomo Chiefs Manawa team:
1. Awhina Tangen-Wainohu
2. Luka Connor
3. Tanya Kalounivale
4. Kelsie Thwaites
5. Chelsea Bremner
6. Charmaine Smith
7. Tynealle Fitzgerald
8. Kennedy Simon (C)
9. Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu (VC)
10. Hazel Tubic
11. Georgia Daals
12. Azalleyah Maaka
13. Carla Hohepa
14. Mererangi Paul
15. Tenika Willison

16. Grace Houpapa-Barrett
17. Kate Henwood
18. Te Urupounamu McGarvey
19. Dhys Faleafaga
20. Victoria Makea
21. Violet Hapi-Wise
22. Abigail Roach
23. Apii Nicholls

Tickets available from

Waitomo Chiefs Manawa ready for a spectacle at home