The Waitomo Chiefs Women have been named to face the nib Blues Women at Eden Park on Saturday, May 1.
Kicking off at 4.35pm, the historic match between the two teams will be the first women’s Super Rugby match in New Zealand.
Waitomo Chiefs Women Head Coach Chad Shepherd, along with his assistants La Toya Mason, James Semple and Mike Rogers have named a strong twenty-three to pull on the Waitomo Chiefs Women’s jersey for the first time.
The side featuring twelve current Black Ferns and an abundance of Farah Palmer Cup players from across the Chiefs Region have completed their preparations for the one-off fixture.
Packing down the front row will be Bay of Plenty loosehead prop Angel Mulu, Black Ferns hooker Luka Connor and Waikato’s Tanya Kalounivale. Former New Zealand volleyballer and current Black Fern Kelsie Wills will pair up with Waikato’s Chyna Hohepa to provide an impressive locking duo.
Experienced loose forward Kendra Reynolds will take the field in the number six jersey while Black Fern and Waitomo Chiefs Women Captain Les Elder will don the number seven jersey.
Kennedy Simon will complete the forward pack, packing down the scrum at number eight.
In the backs, the Counties Manukau halves combination of Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu and Hazel Tubic will start. Experienced Black Ferns second five-eighth Chelsea Alley will combine with powerful centre Ngatokotoru Arakua. On the wings, Counties Manukau’s Langi Veainu will light up the left wing, with Waikato’s electrifying winger Kelsey Teneti on the right. Elusive Waikato fullback Renee Holmes will complete the starting fifteen.
On the bench, Waikato hooker Grace Houpapa-Barrett will be joined by Farah Palmer Cup teammate Awhina Tangen-Wainohu, and Counties Manukau tighthead prop Leilani Perese as front row cover. Counties Manukau lock Harono Te Iringa will be looking to make an impact off the bench alongside Black Fern loose forward Pia Tapsell respectively in jerseys 19 and 20. Waikato halfback Ariana Bayler will provide cover on the bench for Marino-Tauhinu. Counties Manukau midfielder Shyanne Thompson and Taranaki’s Iritana Hohaia will round out the twenty-three.
Waitomo Chiefs Women Head Coach Shepherd says his side are excited and honoured to be a part of this historic occasion.
“Collectively as a team we have been working hard to establish a strong team culture and connect as one on the field. We had our final team training last night and you could feel it was game week. There is a great buzz among the team, and we are excited to kick things off come Saturday. It will be a great spectacle of rugby and one we hope people come out and support.”
Waitomo Chiefs Women:
1. Angel Mulu (Bay of Plenty)
2. Luka Connor (Bay of Plenty)
3. Tanya Kalounivale (Waikato)
4. Kelsie Wills (Bay of Plenty)
5. Chyna Hohepa (Waikato)
6. Kendra Reynolds (Bay of Plenty)
7. Les Elder (Bay of Plenty) ©
8. Kennedy Simon (Waikato)
9. Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu (Counties Manukau)
10. Hazel Tubic (Counties Manukau)
11. Langi Veainu (Counties Manukau)
12. Chelsea Alley (vc) (Waikato)
13. Ngatokotoru Arakua (Counties Manukau)
14. Kelsey Teneti (Waikato)
15. Renee Holmes (Waikato)
16. Grace Houpapa-Barrett (Waikato)
17. Awhina Tangen-Wainohu (Waikato)
18. Leilani Perese (Counties Manukau)
19. Harono Te Iringa (Counties Manukau)
20. Pia Tapsell (Bay of Plenty)
21. Ariana Bayler (Waikato)
22. Shyanne Thompson (Counties Manukau)
23. Iritana Hohaia (Taranaki)
Game Day Information
Waitomo Chiefs Women vs. nib Blues Women, Saturday, May 1, 4.35pm
Location: Eden Park, Auckland