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New look Auckland kick off Women's Provincial Championship

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aucklandrugby.co.nz     27 Aug 2014     Getty Images

It’s somewhat a dawn of a new era for the six-times defending champions, with half of the squad new in 2014.

“We knew that with the World Cup this year there would be a number of players unavailable but saw it as a chance to have a good look around the clubs,” said coach Kallum Adams.

“We were pretty impressed with what we saw.”

When Adams talks of ‘we’, he is referring to new assistant coach, Ramsey Tomokino.

“Ramsey is a passionate coach so it has been great working with him. He is someone that has come from outside of the women’s game so he is bringing some fresh, new ideas,” said Adams.

The two coaches assembled a wider squad just under a month ago before condensing it to 31 players, including ‘development players’.

The team travelled down State Highway One on Saturday to face Counties Manukau in Round One of the Women’s Provincial Championship.

“Heading into Saturday we wondered if the new girls would handle the pressure and step up,” said Adams.

“We went into the game wanting to raise the bar and stay there. We did that in the first 40 minutes but then probably got a bit comfortable. Overall the team did really well.”

With a number of players still to join the squad after the World Cup, Adams said the competition for jerseys will be like never before.

“The message will be clear, you have to train hard and play well. You have to earn the right to wear the jersey. The players on the weekend really stepped up.”

While the team have a bye this weekend, they host Wellington the following week at Eden Park. It will be there first match at the ground since their 2009 final.

“We’re absolutely blown away to get a game at Eden Park. It means a lot to the players,” said Adams.

It will be the first of three televised games for the Storm in 2014.

While the Storm are defending champions, Adams said there is another piece of silverware that is in their sights.

“We lost the JJ Stewart trophy last year so it’s definitely a goal to get that back,” said Adams, in regards to the ‘Ranfurly Shield’ of womens rugby.

Full results after Week One:

Hawke's Bay v Waikato 3-43
Counties Manukau v Auckland 20-45
Bay of Plenty v Otago 5-38
Manawatu v Wellington 22-10