Long wait over as nib Blues set for Sky Super Rugby Aupiki debut

Blues v5

After a covid-decimated lead-up, the nib Blues are eager and excited to finally get on the park, and focussed on a strong first-up performance.

 

Coach Willie Walker said while the team had gone through many frustrations, it was now about focussing on what they can do on the field for the Aupiki opening game.

 

“It has been trying for sure and challenging but now is our time,” said head coach Willie Walker. “There’s been a lot of chat as we watched the others play pre-season and competition but now we are finally going to get on the park.

 

“The girls are excited and eager to get out in the Blues jersey and represent Blue pride.”

 

Walker said that the focus is firmly on performance on the park.

 

“It’s been a long time coming. We understand the situation and now things are in our hands. We have put in the work and now we need to make sure we are mentally on-song to produce things on the park. We know we have not had any lead-up games but we are just pleased that this is our chance to shine.”

 

While there are still a number of players unavailable as they return to full fitness, including captain Aroha Savage and senior leader Eloise Blackwell, the run-on side includes six Black Ferns and two Blake Ferns Sevens, and a number of young talents.

 

 

“Of course, it is disappointing for Aroha and Eloise, but there are still plenty of leaders in the squad and the great thing is the exciting talent that we have selected. This is there chance to show that their selection is justified.”

 

Experienced midfielder Ruahei Demant will captain the team with the pack anchored with Black Ferns props Krystal Murray and Aldora Ituna with two emerging forwards who were standout debutants on the Black Ferns northern tour in lock Maiakawanakaulani Roos and No 8 Liana Mikaele-Tu’u.

 

Canterbury’s Mel Puckett is rewarded with the start at halfback inside internationals Patricia Maliepo and Dement, while there are exciting runners outside in Blake Ferns Sevens stars Theresa Fitzpatrick and Tyla Nathan-Wong.

 

“We have the extended bench and we will need to use them wisely,” said Walker. “We need to play a good platform and establish some opportunities for some of our talented young players.”

 

The game kicks off at 7.05pm at FMG Stadium in Hamilton and will be broadcast live on Sky Sport.

 

The nib Blues team is:

 

1. Krystal Murray
2. Rebecca Todd
3. Aldora Itunu
4. Cindy Nelles
5. Maiakawanakaulani Roos
6. Shannon Leota
7. Tafito Lafaele
8. Liana Mikaele-Tu’u
9. Melanie Puckett
10. Patricia Maliepo
11. Natahlia Moors
12. Ruahei Demant ©
13. Theresa Fitzpatrick
14. Shyanne Thompson
15. Tyla Nathan-Wong

16. Chryss Viliko
17. Olivia Ward-Duin
18. Marie-Cilia Po’e-Tofaeono
19. Sophie Fisher
20. Vineta Teutau
21. Tenaija Fletcher
22. Krysten Cottrell
23. Mele Hufanga
24. Sam Curtis
25. Princess Elliot