The Waitomo Chiefs Manawa squad for the 2023 Sky Super Rugby Aupiki season includes nine Black Ferns and six newcomers who will make their debut in the New Year.
The new squad will defend the team’s title in the Sky Super Rugby Aupiki competition which celebrated its inaugural kick-off last year.
Waitomo Chiefs Manawa head coach Crystal Kaua says the 2023 squad was “a great balance of youth and experience”.
“The good human piece is vital in our selection. We want it to be competitive, but with love – the drive to be better, make each other better and make the team better. Our endgame is maximising the uniqueness of every player, creating an environment where people feel they belong and can play with freedom.”
The new rookies are Bay of Plenty’s Azalleyah Maaka and Te Urupounamu McGarvey, Auckland’s Mererangi Paul, as well as Violet Hapi-Wise, Tynealle Fitzgerald and Merania Paraone.
Maaka brings a lot of speed to the team with her previous Sevens experience. She was a part of the gold medal-winning 2018 Youth Olympic Games New Zealand Sevens team and has since solidified herself in the 15s game with outstanding performances during Farah Palmer Cup (FPC).
Her fellow Bay of Plenty Volcanix teammate McGarvey will add depth to the front line, becoming the third hooker in the mix alongside the experienced Luka Connor and Grace Houpapa-Barrett.
Read More: Rugby World Cup 2023 Fixtures
The players in the 2023 Waitomo Chiefs Manawa squad are
● Amanda Rasch (Wellington, 0)*
● Angel Mulu (Wellington, 5)
● Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu (Counties Manukau, 5)
● Awhina Tangen-Wainohu (Waikato, 5)
● Azalleyah Maaka (Bay of Plenty, 0)*
● Carla Hohepa (Waikato, 4)
● Charmaine Smith (Northland, 0)*
● Chelsea Bremner (Canterbury, 0)*
● Chelsea Semple (Waikato, 3)
● Chyna Hohepa (Waikato, 3)
● Dhys Faleafaga (Wellington, 0)*
● Georgia Daals (Wellington, 4)
● Grace Houpapa-Barret (Waikato, 4)
● Hazel Tubic (Counties Manukau, 5)
● Kelsie Wills (Bay of Plenty, 1)
● Kennedy Simon (Waikato, 5)
● Langi Veainu (Counties Manukau, 5)
● Luka Connor (Bay of Plenty, 5)
● Merania Paraone (Waikato, 1)
● Mererangi Paul (Counties Manukau, 0)*
● Pia Tapsell (Bay of Plenty, 5)
● Renee Wickliffe (Counties Manukau, 4)
● Santo Taumata (Bay of Plenty, 3)
● Tanya Kalounivale (Waikato, 5)
● Te Urupounamu McGarvey (Bay of Plenty, 0)*
● Tynealle Fitzgerald (Bay of Plenty, 2)
● Victoria Edmonds (Waikato, 4)
● Violet Hapi-Wise (Waikato, 0)*
Brackets denote players’ provincial union and Waitomo Chiefs Manawa caps, while * denotes a player that is yet to debut for the Waitomo Chiefs Manawa. Bolded players denote those who have signed their first fulltime Sky Super Rugby Aupiki contract.
The Black Ferns Sevens players will shift their focus to the HSBC World Rugby Sevens series making them unavailable for selection for the Super Rugby Aupiki competition.