The addition of World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year Ruby Tui headlines the Counties Power Counties Manukau Heat squad named for the Farah Palmer Cup.
The 28-year-old Tui joins the Heat having spent the entirety of her domestic career in Canterbury and will bolster coach Chad Shepherd’s back line.
The Olympic silver medallist joins former Auckland player Mele Hufanga as players that have linked up with the Heat for the shortened, COVID-19-impacted competition.
Aotearoa Matau, meanwhile, looms as a key figure in the Heat forward pack. She is one of three players in the squad along with fullback Hazel Tubic and Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu boasting Black Ferns experience alongside international sevens star Tui.
Marino-Tauhinu (Manurewa) has been named as captain of the side while Rebecca Burch of Ardmore Marist and Tubic (Manurewa) will serve as the side’s vice-captains.
The squad is littered with players from the Manurewa and Ardmore Marist club sides that made the final and semi-finals of the Auckland Premier competition respectively. Manurewa had been unbeaten until losing in two periods of extra time to Ponsonby in the championship finale.
Shepherd will have Suli Taufelele and Manurewa club coach Kallum Adams join him in a new-look coaching staff.
The Heat help open the Farah Palmer Cup when they face North Harbour at Navigation Homes Stadium at 2.35pm on Saturday. The match will be played behind closed doors, with no spectators able to attend, due to the Auckland region’s current COVID-19 restrictions which ban any gatherings of more than 10 people.
“It is disappointing that we cannot have fans in to help cheer the Heat on,” said CMRFU chief executive Aaron Lawton. “Chad has been able to name a strong squad and we have high hopes of what they will achieve this season.
“I know the players are looking forward to spectators being able to see them in action in the coming weeks with any luck.”
Counties Power Heat: Shaye Adams (Manurewa), Glory Aiono (Manurewa), Ngatokotoru Arakua (Manurewa), Utumalama Atonio (Ardmore Marist), Juvina Auva’a (Ardmore Marist), Aaliyah Brown (Manurewa High School), Stacey Brown (Papakura), Rebecca Burch (Ardmore Marist), Waikohika Flesher (Manurewa), Grace Gago (Manurewa), Taylah Hodson-Tomokino (Manurewa), Makineti (Mele) Hufanga (Manurewa), Emily Kitson (Ardmore Marist), Cathy Leuta (Manurewa), Larissa Lima (Ardmore Marist), Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu (Manurewa), Aotearoa Matau (Ardmore Marist), Ilisapeti Molia (Manurewa), Yuki Ono (Ardmore Marist), Amiria Te Iringa (Manurewa), Harono Te Iringa (Manurewa), Shyanne Thompson (Ardmore Marist), Ocean Tierney (Papakura), Shonte To’a (Ardmore Marist), Hazel Tubic (Manurewa), Ruby Tui (Papakura), Leititia Vaka (Ardmore Marist), Katofoekina Veainu (Ardmore Marist), Lanulangi Veainu (Ardmore Marist), Azania Watene (Ardmore Marist)
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