Counties Energy Heat team to face Auckland on Friday

Counties Energy Heat team to face Auckland on Friday

Black Ferns star Ruby Tui has been named to make her 2023 Farah Palmer Cup presented by Bunnings Warehouse debut when the Counties Energy Heat host the Auckland Storm at Navigation Homes Stadium on Friday.

Tui, who has been playing in the United States, is listed to start on the right wing for what shapes as an important clash between two contending sides.

Saua Leaupepetele's side started the season with a hiss and a roar, picking up bonus point wins in their opening two matches before going down to competition leaders Waikato in a close battle last weekend.

He will be hoping Tui can help his side respond in a positive manner.

"This week, we continue to learn and improve," Leaupepetele said. "Our focus is to minimise the simple errors that we committed in the last game-nothing major, just maintenance. It's a tough game with a short week to prepare for our girls, but that's part of the challenge: how we respond from the week before.

"With Ruby Tui coming into the starting lineup, it gives us more experience out on the park, which boosts the team's confidence going into this game."

Like the Heat, the Storm have a two win, one loss record heading into the game and both teams find themselves in a logjam with teams ranked second to fifth on the table separated by just two points.

Utumalama Atonio and Harono Te Iringa will be presented with their blazers after the match having brought up their respective milestones while the team was on the road.

The game kicks off at 5.05pm with the PIC Steelers facing Hawke's Bay in the second match of the double header at 7.35pm.

Counties Energy Heat v Auckland: 1. Anastasia Mamea, 2. Grace Gago (capt), 3. Harono Te Iringa, 4. Rebecca Burch, 5. Vineta Teutau, 6. Utumalama Atonio, 7. Stacey Brown, 8. Joanna Fanene-Lolo, 9. Leititia Vaka, 10. Vic Subritzky-Nafatali, 11. Jaymie Kolose, 12. Shonte To'a, 13. Shyanne Thompson, 14. Ruby Tui, 15. Mererangi Paul. Reserves: Lulu Leuta, Lana Samuelu, Joy Vaaga, Margaret Manase, Paris Mataroa, Azania Watene, Emily Kitson, Ngatokotoru Arakua.