Rikki Swannell has been a sports broadcaster for 15 years, including six years as Sports Editor for Radio Sport/Newstalk ZB, covering various World Cups, Olympics and Commonwealth Games. Now a freelance commentator and reporter, she can be heard on rugby, netball, tennis, cricket and hockey for Sky Sport and on the Women's World Sevens Series.Read more exclusive columns
National selection looms large in Farah Palmer Cup - Swannell
Rikki Swannell 10 Oct 2018 Getty Images
By contrast, France has selected 25 players who were part of the Six Nations winning campaign earlier this year and four members of the sevens team which finished runners-up to New Zealand at the World Cup. France is a month into its domestic Top 16 competition so their players will go into the series with top level rugby under their belts.
So too will New Zealand. For the first time, the Black Ferns selectors will have current form to base their squad on, players who are match hardened and some who will get the chance this week to show they can perform under pressure.
Going into the penultimate week of the FPC where five games will be played, there are three match-ups which standout (which isn’t to say the others aren’t just as important). They’re the sort of games where teams get to show how good they can be when the stakes are high and where players might get their name changed from pencil to pen in coach Moore’s notebook.
NEWS | Mental wellbeing will be the focus for New Zealand Rugby during Mental Health Awareness week. Check out how the #FarahPalmerCup and #Mitre10Cup will be raising awareness for mental health in New Zealand.Waikato was a joy to watch last week; abrasive tight forwards, mobile and skilled loosies and a slick backline combined to take them into a home semifinal against Counties Manukau, who they beat by six points in round one. Counties, however, have class across the park and players who’ve been in many big games.
READ ?? https://t.co/HheILXQIEm pic.twitter.com/BbQ9EvU0nu— Black Ferns (@BlackFerns) October 7, 2018
Otago comfortably beat Hawke’s Bay in week two and has so much exciting young talent that if the bulk of this squad stays together there’s no doubt it’ll compete in the Premiership at some stage. But the Tui is a vastly improved side and narrowly missed hosting this Championship semifinal.
Then there’s the relegation game (or “final ranking game”), one which seems terribly hard on Bay of Plenty and a chance at an almighty reprieve for Auckland. If ever there was a time to show how to handle pressure, prove your last meeting was no fluke or to validate your place in the selectors mind, this is the game.
These are the ones they’ve all been working towards; the ones they’ve trained for in the cold after work, where big names should step-up and young players show what they can handle. These are the games to savour.
Can Waikato’s Ariana Bayler continue to deliver great service to the backline and cement a case to take a third halfback on the Black Ferns tour? Is Aotearoa Mata’u’s barn-storming, try scoring form enough to earn the Counties prop a recall?
Tune in this weekend to see all of those questions and more answered.
SEMI-FINALS | It's crunch time in the #FarahPalmerCup as the Premiership and Championship semi-finals kick-off this weekend. Who are you picking to make the finals?#WellBeingRound #Ours pic.twitter.com/puoZNrmw8w— Black Ferns (@BlackFerns) October 8, 2018