Experienced pair return for key clash for nib Blues

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Coach Willie Walker has chosen largely the same side that beat the South Island Matatū side mid-week.

 

While the competition has been condensed because of the effects of covid, it is fitting for the final match to be a rematch between the two teams that sparked this important competition when they played at Eden Park last year.

 

“Obviously it would have been nice to have played the full competition but I am full of admiration with the way the girls have approach the covid challenge. They have been very professional and remained upbeat – and I know they are fizzing after the game during the week.

 

“With the expanded squads and rolling subs, we are able to use most of the girls, and we felt it was better to build further on what the team began against Matatū.

 

“Naturally the team are excited for their captain to be fit for selection, and for Eloise to be able to take her place to come off the bench.

 

 

“The team will be all the better for that first game. And they know what to expect.”

 

The run-on side includes seven Black Ferns and two Blake Ferns Sevens, and a number of young talents.

 

Savage comes in at No 8 with Liana Mikaele-Tu’u, outstanding mid-week, moving to her more accustomed role at No 6.

 

A key was the strength of the set-piece led by Black Ferns props Krystal Murray and Aldora Ituna and the experienced of Rebecca Todd at hooker, and ball-winning abilities of Black Ferns lock Maiakawanakaulani Roos and Canadian Cindy Nelles.

 

The backline is unchanged, directed by halfback Mel Puckett inside the international pairing of Patricia Maliepo and Ruehei Dement, and with talent and speed aplenty wider out, along with impact off the bench with the likes of the effervescent Mele Hufanga who added much impact against Matatū.

 

The game is at 7.35pm kickoff on Sunday at FMG Stadium.

 

The nib Blues team is:

 

1. Krystal Murray

2. Rebecca Todd

3. Aldora Itunu

4. Cindy Nelles

5. Maiakawanakaulani Roos

6. Liana Mikaele-Tu’u

7. Tafito Lafele

8. Aroha Savage ©

9. Melanie Puckett

10. Patricia Maliepo

11. Natahlia Moors

12. Ruahei Demant

13. Theresa Fitzpatrick

14. Shyanne Thompson

15. Tyla Nathan-Wong

 

Reserves:

16. Chryss Viliko

17. Olivia Ward-Duin

18. Marie-Cilia Po’e-Tofaeono

19. Christo Tofa

20. Vineta Teutau

21. Eloise Blackwell

22. Krysten Cottrell

23. Mele Hufanga

24. Sam Curtis

25. Princess Elliot