February 23, 2023

Waitomo Chiefs Manawa side named to face Hurricanes Poua


Inaugural Sky Super Rugby Aupiki Champions, the Waitomo Chiefs Manawa have named a talented side to face the Hurricanes Poua in the season opener in Levin this Saturday.

The team will be looking to take their winning form of 2022 into the second season of the competition.

The Waitomo Chiefs Manawa put in two outstanding performances at Pukekohe last week during their pre-season matches against the Blues and Waratahs. Rookies Azalleyah Maaka and Mererangi Paul, who will make their Sky Super Rugby Aupiki debut this weekend, impressed getting the ball across the line three times between them.

Supporting them in the back row this weekend will be the latest convert to 15's Tenika Willison alongside another former Black Ferns Sevens star, Carla Hohepa.

"Firstly, I want to acknowledge the difficult times so many are going through in New Zealand after the cyclone and the floods," said Waitomo Chiefs Manawa head coach Crystal Kaua.

"The pressure we work with in sport is a privileged one. It’s feels inappropriate in these times to be talking rugby, but we hope our team can bring some joy to our family, friends and fans in the East Coast, Hawkes Bay, Auckland, and Northland regions.

"The Hurricanes Poua looked physical in their pre-season where they beat Matatū convincingly. We look forward to that physical battle - something we pride ourselves on is being brutal in the contact. Neither team has been tested for a full 80 minutes with genuine subs and we want to play our tempo with brutality for that 80.

"Our pre-season has been short, so far we have had just 11 days together. So, we are building layers each training, each game, with the intent to play with freedom. Our players, our staff are giving it everything they can for this team. We know that."

The team named includes seven current Black Ferns who bring a wealth of knowledge to support the rookies.

Off the back of their Rugby World Cup win, the duo of Luka Connor and Tanya Kalouivale will return to make an impact on the front line. The experienced internationals Chelsea Bremner and Charmaine Smith, who moved to the Waitomo Chiefs Manawa from Matatū and the Blues respectively, will bring further height, strength and experience to the squad in their debut matches in Chiefs colours.

League transfers Abigail Roache and Apii Nicholls will add impact off the bench, as will the talented young prop Santo Taumata.

The match will kick off the 2023 Sky Super Rugby Aupiki season at 2.05pm at Levin Domain.

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

16. Grace Houpapa-Barrett
17. Te Urupounamu McGarvey*
18. Santo Taumata
19. Dhys Faleafaga*
20. Victoria Makea
21. Violet Hapi-Wise*
22. Abigail Roache*
23. Apii Nicholls*

Fixture Information
Waitomo Chiefs Manawa vs Hurricanes Poua
Saturday February 25, 2.05pm NZT
Location: Levin Domain
Broadcast: Live on Sky Sport
Tickets: https://hurricanes.flicket.co.nz

Additional information
Tickets to the first Chiefs home games of the season are available now. This weekend of rugby at FMG Stadium Waikato will see the Gallagher Chiefs vs Highlanders on Friday 10 March and Waitomo Chiefs Manawa vs Matatū on Saturday 11 March. Tickets available from: https://chiefs.flicket.co.nz

All media enquiries to [email protected]

Waitomo Chiefs Manawa side named to face Hurricanes Poua