Position in 2019
The Auckland Storm went from bottom of the premiership to being within a whisker of claiming the title last year and will look to continue their form into this season.
Despite losing a number of experienced players there is still priceless international experience in the squad, in particular in the forwards with Black Ferns Player of the Year Charmaine McMenamin, Eloise Blackwell, Aleisha-Pearl Nelson, and Aldora Itunu.
2019’s teenage-sensation Patricia Maliepo returns for her second season and will link with Black Ferns Ruahei Demant and Theresa Fitzpatrick who are set to form an electric midfield partnership.
Netball convert Grace Kukutai who was an MVP at last years Red Bull Ignite7 is in the squad after an impressive season with club champions Ponsonby, as is future star and Mt Albert Grammar schoolgirl Sylvia Brunt.
Auckland are bolstered by the inclusion of Black Fern Theresa Fitzpatrick who has missed recent FPC seasons due to international sevens commitments.
Teen up-and-comer Liana Mikeale-Tu’u joins the Storm, younger sister of break-out Highlanders star Marino, she made her FPC debut for Hawke’s Bay last year and has moved north for study.
Other Auckland debutants include netball convert Grace Kukutai, and youngsters Sylvia Brunt, Luisa Togotogorua and Tamara Ati.
Auckland have lost some serious experience with Linda Itunu retiring after the 2019 season and Black Ferns lock Charmaine Smith announcing a shock retirement due to injury earlier this year. Other long serving players not involved in the 2020 squad include Kiritapu Demant, Joanna Fanene, Aimee Lensen, Lose Mafi and Leanna Thompson.
Player to watch: Maia Roos
Former Tamaki College Head Girl Maia Roos debuted for the Storm last season and featured in every match, predominantly as understudy to the Black Fern locking duo of Smith and Blackwell. With Smith’s retirement, expect Roos, an athletic and aerial lock to step up in 2020.
Auckland Storm squad
Saphire Abraham, Tamara Ati, Eloise Blackwell, Sylvia Brunt, Moana Cook, Rosie Cox, Ruahei Demant, Princess Elliot, Theresa Fitzpatrick, Grace Freeman, Aldora Itunu, Grace Kukutai, Tafito Lafaele, Shannon Leota, Patricia Maliepo, Charmaine McMenamin, Liana Mikaele-Tu'u, Natahlia Moors, Shannon Muru, Joeannha Naime-Purcell, Daynah Nankivell, Aleisha Nelson, Lovely Pulotu, Lydia Quedley-Turua, Maia Roos, Ti Tauasosi, Vineta Teutau, Cristo Tofa, Luisa Togotogorua, Leianne Tufuga, Mele Tu'inukuafe, Chryss Viliko, Olivia Waldron
Coaches: Richie Walker (Head coach), Anna Richards (Assistant coach), Craig Hall (Assistant coach)
Auckland Storm draw
Taranaki v Auckland
Sunday 6 September
12pm TET Stadium & Events Centre
Northland v Auckland
Sunday 13 September
11.35am Semenoff Stadium
Auckland v Counties Manukau
Sunday 20 September
2.05pm Eden Park
North Harbour v Auckland
Saturday 26 September
1pm Kumeu RFC
Auckland v Bay of Plenty
Saturday 3 October
Saturday 10 October
Auckland v Waikato
Saturday 17 October
3pm Eden Park