Otago move up to the Premiership in 2020, with Manawatu to play in the Championship. Here’s who we think have played well enough to make the Farah Palmer Cup form XV, but we’ve left space at the end for those who missed out, but only just.
1: Pip Love (Canterbury)
Having sustained an injury at the conclusion of the Super Series in San Diego, Pip Love missed the Laurie O’Reilly Memorial Trophy series against Australia earlier this year. She bounced back in style however and played in all but one game for Canterbury in the Farah Palmer Cup in 2019. She was a force to be reckoned with in the final against Auckland and was fired up for the occasion.
2: Luka Connor (Bay of Plenty)
Luka Connor missed the 2018 Farah Palmer Cup with a knee injury but stamped her mark on the competition in 2019. Having made her Black Ferns debut earlier this year, Connor played with a load of confidence and scored three tries throughout the season. She also got selected in the Black Ferns development squad that travels to Fiji for the Oceania Women’s Championship this month.
3: Leilani Perese (Counties Manukau)
Leilani Perese has played on both sides of the scrum this season, playing a mixture of loosehead and tighthead prop for the Counties Manukau Heat. Offering versatility and a strong running game, Perese has been in impressive form throughout the FPC season.
4: Eloise Blackwell (Auckland)
A fierce leader, Eloise Blackwell has helped her Auckland Storm side to a brilliant resurgence in 2019. From bottom of the table to Premiership final, Blackwell has been key to her side’s successful campaign. Always reliable at lineout time and a constant threat on attack and defence. Blackwell also brought up her 100th first-class match (Farah Palmer Cup & Black Ferns combined) this season, alongside Aleisha-Pearl Nelson and Linda Itunu.
5: Chelsea Bremner (Canterbury)
Canterbury’s Chelsea Bremner joins Blackwell in the second row of this form XV, having had a brilliant season. She won the women’s player of the year prize at the Canterbury Rugby awards and also earnt a call-up to the Black Ferns development squad, alongside her sister Alana. She was often the number one option in attacking lineouts and she was strong at the breakdown.
6: Liana Mikaele-Tu’u (Hawke’s Bay)
Liana Mikaele-Tu’u is still at school. The 17-year old made her Hawke’s Bay Tui debut this season and has impressed from the get-go. She’s versatile, having played lock, blindside flanker and No 8 this season. Her brother, Marino, played loose forward for the Highlanders and Magpies this year. Remarkably, Mikaele-Tu’u was coached by veteran Tui halfback Emma Jensen for the Hastings Girls High School team this year.
7: Kendra Reynolds (Bay of Plenty)
One of the more experienced players in a young Bay of Plenty Volcanix side, loose forward Kendra Reynolds really stood out in 2019. She scored three tries in the campaign and made several line breaks, proving a challenge to put down with ball in hand. Rewarded for her season by also being named in the Black Ferns development side, Reynolds is also the Women’s Rugby Development Officer at Bay of Plenty Rugby.
8: Charmaine McMenamin (Auckland)
It would be hard to disagree with comments suggesting Charmaine McMenamin has been the best women’s player in the country this year. She was outstanding for the Black Ferns in the Super Series and against Australia and she’s gone onto continue her form for the Storm in the Farah Palmer Cup. McMenamin has been a menace in all areas of the game and has been blockbusting with the ball in hand, scoring four tries for her Auckland side.
9: Kendra Cocksedge (Canterbury)
It’s been another solid Farah Palmer Cup season for Kendra Cocksedge. She’s helped lead her Canterbury side to a three-peat in the Premiership, and her sneaky drop kick in the final against Auckland was a masterclass. She was second on the highest points scorer table with 94 points in just seven games.
10: Rosie Kelly (Otago)
What a season it’s been for Rosie Kelly. The 19-year old has been outstanding for the Otago Spirit and has been key to their unbeaten run in 2019. She was the competitions highest points scorer with 107, picking up 30 points in their match against North Harbour. Her strong season earnt her selection in the Power team for the Red Bull Ignite7 tournament which takes place in Auckland from 20-24 November.
11: Ayesha Leti-I’iga (Wellington)
The bulldozing Black Ferns and Wellington Pride winger could have her own highlights reel this season. She’s scored some incredible tries and made some massive tackles. She topped the try scoring ladder with 12 and scored a remarkable five tries in the Pride’s match against Manawatu in week seven. She’s quick and she fends like her life depends on it and we can’t wait to see her grow in 2020.
12: Kilisitina Moata’ane (Otago)
Speaking of bulldozing, Kilisitina Moata’ane has been hard to stop in 2019. She’s also been a try-scoring machine, dotting down nine times throughout the season. She scored a clutch try in the Championship final against Hawke’s Bay and has been an integral part of the Spirit’s success. Moata’ane made her Black Ferns debut earlier this year against Australia and she is also part of the Black Ferns development squad that will play at the Oceania tournament later this month.
13: Grace Brooker (Canterbury)
Grace Brooker has grown in confidence in 2019. She’s been in sublime form for Canterbury after making an impressive Black Ferns debut against Australia at Eden Park earlier this year. She’s extremely reliable and has linked well in the midfield with Lucy Anderson who has also been in great form Canterbury this season.
14: Savannah Bodman (Northland)
17-year old Savannah Bodman has been one of many outstanding players for Northland in their debut Farah Palmer Cup season this year. Out of the Kamo Hawks club, Bodman went onto score eight tries in 2019, including a hat trick in Northland’s opening game. She to has been rewarded and will feature in the Inferno team at the Ignite7 later this month.
15: Olivia McGoverne
Olivia McGoverne has played over 30 games for Canterbury and she was strong at fullback all season. She scored a crucial try against the Counties Manukau Heat in their semi-final, before scoring again in the final against Auckland. We’ve loved her very enthusiastic try celebrations in 2019 and she joins six of her other Canterbury teammates in the Black Ferns development side.
There were so many special players throughout the teams this season and we wanted to give a shout out to those who were unlucky not to make the Farah Palmer Cup form XV.
Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate – Hooker – Northland
Patricia Maliepo – First five-eighth – Auckland
Ruahei Demant – Inside back – Auckland
Pia Tapsell – Loose forward – North Harbour
Emily Kitson – Outside back – Counties Manukau
Ilisapeta Molia – Loose forward – Counties Manukau
Larissa Lima – Loose forward – Counties Manukau
Toka Natua – Prop – Waikato
Kelsie Wills – Lock – Bay of Plenty
Saphire Tapsell – Outside back – Bay of Plenty
Iritana Hohaia – Halfback – Taranaki
Hanna Brough – Lock – Hawke’s Bay
Cortez Te Pou – Outside back – Hawke’s Bay
Janna Vaughan – Utility back – Manawatu
Rebecca Kersten – Outside back – Tasman