The Hurricanes Poua and Blues were scheduled to kick off beforehand from 3.35pm at FMG Stadium Waikato, however will share competition points after their match was cancelled due to covid cases and isolation requirements in the Hurricanes Poua squad.
Thirteen Waitomo Chiefs Manawa players are lined up to make their debuts and earn “Waitomo Chiefs Manawa Numbers” to mark their place in the club’s history. Both teams have been permitted to name twenty-five players as part of the player welfare measures in place for Sky Super Rugby Aupiki.
The starting front row remains unchanged from last week’s pre-season clash with Angel Mulu at loosehead prop, Luka Connor at hooker and Black Ferns prop Tanya Kalounivale at tighthead. Debutant Victoria Edmonds has been moved into the locks in the number 4 jersey joined by pre-season starter Harono Te Iringa in the number 5 jersey.
There is just one change in the loose forwards who started in last week’s pre-season match with Pia Tapsell named at blindside. Waitomo Chiefs Manawa Captain Les Elder will once again start at openside flanker with Black Fern Kennedy Simon at Number 8.
In the backs, Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu keeps her starting halfback position, pairing up with Black Ferns veteran Kelly Brazier at first five-eighth who will make her debut. An elusive starting midfield features Black Fern Carla Hohepa and Georgia Daals in jerseys 12 and 13 respectively, both set to make their debuts. The starting back three features two prolific debutants on the wings with extensive Black Ferns Sevens experience. Ruby Tui will start on the left wing, with Portia Woodman covering the right. Hazel Tubic keeps her pre-season starting spot at fullback to round out the starting fifteen.
The extended reserves bench features seven possible Waitomo Chiefs Manawa debutants. Debutant Merania Paraone claims the number 16 jersey, with Awhina Tangen-Wainohu in jersey 18 and Santo Taumata will also look to debut in jersey 19. Debutants Jayjay Taylor and Tynealle Fitzgerald will complete the forwards’ reserves in jerseys 20 and 21 respectively.
Covering the backline replacements are a duo of Black Ferns with Ariana Bayler covering halfback and Renee Wickliffe will look to make her debut off the bench in jersey 23. The two extra replacements feature another halfback option through debutant Maia Joseph and utility back Langi Veainu in jersey 25.
Waitomo Chiefs Manawa Head Coach Allan Bunting said the players are excited to make history in the first official match of Sky Super Rugby Aupiki and the pre-season match was advantageous for preparations.
“It was great to finally play a game and have something to build off. We knew Matatū would be very well polished and expected nothing less than what came our way, we know they will be much better this Thursday. In what’s been a challenging lead in to this competition it is great to be able to get some quality time together. The ladies are excited to be a part of history and run out at FMG Stadium Waikato wearing our jersey”. said Bunting.
“We are certainly grateful to be in a position to be able to play another game and feel for the Hurricanes Poua and Blues, hopefully we get to see them take part in the near future.” finished Bunting.
The match will be broadcasted live on Sky Sport and delayed on Prime.
Waitomo Chiefs Manawa to face Matatū:
1. Angel Mulu
2. Luka Connor
3. Tanya Kalounivale
4. Victoria Edmonds*
5. Harono Te Iringa
6. Pia Tapsell
7. Les Elder ©
8. Kennedy Simon
9. Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu
10. Kelly Brazier*
11. Ruby Tui*
12. Carla Hohepa*
13. Georgia Daals*
14. Portia Woodman*
15. Hazel Tubic
16. Merania Paraone*
17. Awhina Tangen-Wainohu
18. Santo Taumata*
19. Mia Anderson*
20. JayJay Taylor*
21. Tynealle Fitzgerald*
22. Ariana Bayler
23. Renee Wickliffe*
24. Maia Joseph*
25. Langi Veainu
*Denotes Waitomo Chiefs Manawa debutant
Unavailable for selection:
Stacey Fluhler, Chelsea Semple, Kelsie Wills.