Canterbury will send a team short on experience but lacking nothing in the enthusiasm department to the NZRL National Women’s tournament, which kicks off at Auckland’s Cornwall Park on Saturday.

The squad initially selected has been hit by injury withdrawals, while the absence of Kiwis Ferns reps Corinna Whiley and Bunty Kuruwaka-Crowe is a big blow to Canterbury’s bid to repeat and improve on their watershed third-place finish in 2017.

New coach Tom Ball says over half of the 22-player squad are representative rookies, but he’ll be looking to the likes of experienced skipper Carissa Leka to provide the necessary leadership for his youthful squad.

Ball, a former New Zealand 18s coach, and his team are looking forward to the challenge.

“Being a new coach, for me it’s about creating a culture and going up there and giving it a real dig,” Ball says.

“A lot of it will be getting them introduced to that level of competition with so many new faces.”

Canterbury are in Pool B alongside Akarana Falcons and Wai-Coa-Bay Stallions; Pool A consists of Counties-Manukau Stingrays, Auckland Vulcans Development and Wellington Orcas.

The tournament runs from June 2-4, with Canterbury taking on the Vulcans in their cross-pool match and then the Falcons on Saturday, and the Stallions on Sunday.

The Stingrays, eight-time defending champions, have defeated the Falcons in each of the last three finals.

“Counties haven’t been beaten for the last eight years, so they’re the ones to beat,” Ball says.

“We were third last year and we’re trying to consistently get up in that top three.”


1Bobby Lee Ross
2Shady Pakau
3Amanda Clarke
4Lucy Crabbe
5Michelle Wong
6Cassie Siataga
7Carissa Leka
8Jasmine Wynyard
9Kadison-Tyra Robertson
10Epenesa Ki
11Fleur Barker
12Mareta Pelenato
13Sui Pauaraisa
14Taryn Caley
15Rebekah Wawatai
16Wirihita Shelford
17Eti Viliamu Tuiloma
18Karita Agafili
19Kahurangi Shelford
20Meshelle  Rosvall
21Santana Ngatuere

Team Management: Tom Ball (Coach), Sabrina Manu (Manager), Tyrone Rapana (Trainer), Renee Puru (Assistant Manager)

Meanwhile, the National Women’s Tournament provides players with the chance to earn a spot in Kiwi Ferns wider squad of 30 which will be named at the conclusion of the tournament on Monday.

There’s also the inaugural NRL Women’s Premiership later this year, which will see Brisbane, St George Illawarra, Sydney Roosters and the Warriors constructing squads in the coming months. Warriors coach Luisa Avaiki will be running the rule over the best New Zealand-based talent this weekend.

Download the NZRL app on your iphone or android through the app store, and you’ll receive live notifications as the results come in. You can refer to LeagueNet (click here for link) for live scoring and results as they happen too.

There will also be daily wrap-up graphics on the NZRL Facebook page and the NZRL website. These wrap-ups will be accompanied by interviews with players so you don’t miss out on the action.


Canterbury v Auckland Vulcans – 11:30am, Saturday, June 2
Canterbury v Akarana Falcons – 3:30pm, Saturday, June 2
Canterbury v Wai-Coa-Bay Stallions – 10:30am, Sunday, June 3

1st Pool B v 2nd Pool A – 1:30pm, Sunday, June 3
1st Pool A v 2nd Pool B – 1:30pm, Sunday, June 3

5th/6th Playoff – 3rd Pool A v 3rd Pool B – 10:30am, Monday, June 4
3rd/4th Playoff – Loser Semi 1 v Loser Semi 2 – 11:30am, Monday, June 4
Grand Final – Winner Semi 1 v Winner Semi 2 – 1:00pm, Monday, June 4

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